WASHINGTON—The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday in favor of Joan Larsen and Amy Coney Barrett to be federal appeals judges. Pundits say this committee action increases pressure on Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans to reform procedural roadblocks so that senators can vote on the Senate floor to confirm the growing number of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees.
Larsen is currently a justice on the Michigan Supreme Court. President Trump nominated her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which covers Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Barrett is currently a professor at Notre Dame Law School. President Trump nominated her to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which covers Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin.
Both women previously served as law clerks to Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. Yet despite their stellar credentials, both were voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on a straight-line party vote of only 11-9.
“We are pleased the Senate Judiciary Committee supported Amy Coney Barrett … and Joan Larsen, despite the ugly anti-Catholic bigotry that reared its head during their hearing,” Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) Carrie Severino said in reaction to Thursday’s vote, referring to Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) raising Barrett’s strong Catholic faith as a concern about Barrett’s fitness to be a federal judge, drawing stunned criticism from across the ideological spectrum.
“We await their final confirmation vote on the floor of the Senate,” added Severino. “We hope these Democratic senators will come to their senses when it comes time for a final confirmation vote and won’t keep playing partisan politics nor continue their unconstitutional religious tests.”
Severino is referring to the growing frustration with the Senate’s slow pace of confirming President Trump’s judicial nominees, who have been roundly praised for their extraordinary caliber. The president has already nominated 56 individuals to fill 166 judicial vacancies and announces new nominees every couple weeks, yet the Senate has only confirmed seven thus far.
Senate Republicans are in increasingly energetic talks with leadership about what must be done to change longstanding procedures that are being employed by Senate Democrats in an unprecedented fashion to block or slow-walk these nominees. Critics maintain that Republicans could remove these roadblocks with a simple majority vote.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.