WASHINGTON—Conservatives groups launched a multimillion-dollar campaign on Monday to push the Senate to confirm President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, helping break the gridlock in the Senate so the White House can fill more than 100 vacancies on the federal bench.
The Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) is leading the charge, launching a $500,000 ad campaign to persuade recalcitrant senators to allow nominees to get through the vetting and committee process so that they are permitted a final vote on the Senate floor. It is expected that every one of President Trump’s nominees would be approved by a majority of senators if allowed such a vote.
About 105 judicial vacancies existed when President Trump took office in January. That number has risen to 140 during the past seven months, even while some of those seats have been filled by the few nominees who have made it through the Senate process.
JCN has partnered with a number of conservative groups that are activating their grassroots networks to pressure senators to bring nominees to a final vote, naming Tea Party Patriots, Concerned Veterans for America, Susan B. Anthony List, and Concerned Women for America in JCN’s Monday press release announcing the campaign.
“Democrats are abusing Senate rules to delay and obstruct President Trump’s extraordinary judicial nominees because they want to keep liberal activist judges in control of our courts,” said JCN Chief Counsel Carrie Severino in Monday’s campaign announcement. “Because of their gridlock, there are now far more judicial vacancies than there were when President Trump took office, and he began with a record number.”
“This Democratic obstruction can end by reforming the so-called ‘blue slip’ process and adopting Senator Lankford’s gridlock reform proposal to debate each nominee for eight hours or less and give them a prompt up or down vote,” Severino continued.
Other groups are also making efforts to confirm President Trump’s nominees, some through public campaigns and others through their influence on Capitol Hill. The biggest, by far, in this effort is the National Rifle Association, whose bone-crushing political muscle is unmatched by any other organization in the country. The NRA went all-in several years ago regarding judicial nominees, in response to the growing number of gun-rights issues the courts are deciding.
Additional groups that are prominently supporting conservative judicial nominees include the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, First Liberty Institute, Club for Growth, and Heritage Action.
National conservative leader and former U.S. Ambassador Ken Blackwell spotlights the Senate gridlock by recounting the struggle to confirm Judge David Nye to the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho. President Barack Obama nominated Nye to that federal district court, but this did not come to a final vote before Obama left office.
President Trump then re-nominated Nye as a gesture of bipartisanship, understanding that both of Idaho’s senators supported the nomination and that there was no controversy surrounding the pick. Yet for some reason, Democratic senators who were willing to support Nye when President Obama was in office are no longer willing to act on precisely the same nomination under President Trump.
Although a number of the president’s judicial nominees have been confirmed, a number of his picks whom even his critics admit are qualified for judgeships are currently stalled in the Senate. This gridlock persists despite Republicans controlling both the White House and the Senate.
Article II of the U.S. Constitution specifies that all federal judges are nominated by the president, then must be confirmed by the Senate.
The judicial confirmation campaign is using the social media handle #GridlockReform.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.