WASHINGTON, DC – The Senate Judiciary Committee (SJC) voted on Thursday to send ten additional judicial nominees to the Senate floor, positioning President Donald Trump for a blockbuster first year on successful judicial appointments, if not a modern record.
Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) led his committee to approve ten additional nominees from President Trump for lifetime appointments to the federal bench, three to the powerful federal courts of appeals and seven to the federal district courts.
Senators voted along strict party lines on the appellate nominees, voting 11-9 to approve all three picks. They are: James Ho for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit; Don Willett, also for the Fifth Circuit; and Leonard Steven Grasz for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
The opposition to Ho and Willett is considered pure hyperpartisan bickering.
Ho formerly served as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, then the U.S. Justice Department, then Texas solicitor general. Democrats claim they oppose him because he would not disclose sensitive legal work product, a demand considered outrageous by many in the legal community, as lawyers must be able to give confidential advice that the recipient knows will never become public.
Willett is currently a justice on the Texas Supreme Court. Democrats claim to oppose him because he has been active on Twitter. Although many would think that some of Willett’s earlier tweets poking fun at then-candidate Trump would be welcomed by Democrats, they instead insist it means he lacked the temperament to be a judge (despite his long and distinguished career on the bench).
Grasz is a different story, making this nomination important in one additional regard. He was deemed “not qualified” to be an appeals judge by the far-left American Bar Association (ABA), which many average Americans assume is some sort of official body, but in reality, is a far-left private organization which most lawyers refuse to be part of.
The ABA’s opposition to Grasz appears to be based on his outspoken criticism of Roe v. Wade and his work as chief deputy attorney general of Nebraska to defend abortion restrictions in court. Thursday’s SJC vote is another indicator that the left-wing ABA’s role in judicial appointments continues to decline.
The seven nominees for the district courts — which are the trial courts in the federal system — all passed SJC unanimously on a voice vote.
All ten nominees now go to the full Senate, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is promising swift action.
The Senate has confirmed 16 judicial nominations from President Trump this year. Of modern two-term presidents, at this point Ronald Reagan had 33, Bill Clinton had 28, George W. Bush had 21, and Barack Obama had 11.
All this, despite unprecedented obstruction tactics from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), requiring numerous cloture votes (15 so far) to curtail attempted filibusters and consuming up to 30 hours of post-cloture debate time per nominee in efforts to slow down confirmations.
With 26 of President Trump’s nominees now pending on the Senate floor after Thursday’s SJC votes, if McConnell and the Republicans press forward with floor votes over the next three weeks, the president could see the highest numbers in a quarter-century on this issue that is so important to the voters who supported his candidacy in 2016. This issue is also expected to be a key issue in the 2018 midterm elections.
President Trump’s 16 new judges include nine to the U.S. courts of appeals, which is a first-year record among presidents in recent decades.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.