WASHINGTON, DC – President Donald Trump set a new judicial record on Wednesday when the Senate confirmed Judge Andrew Oldham to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit 50-49, marking the 23rd appellate judge confirmed in the first two years of a presidential administration, as Democrats take partisanship to new heights to block these nominees.
Oldham is a rising star in the conservative movement, regarded as a top confirmation priority. He graduated from Harvard Law School, clerked for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s court, often referred to as the second-highest court in America), then clerked for Justice Samuel Alito on the U.S. Supreme Court. At age 39, he quickly generated a distinguished legal career, most recently serving as general counsel to Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX).
“This week, the Senate continues to confirm impressive nominees whom President Trump has asked to serve our country,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on the floor Wednesday. Oldham “carries the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association (ABA)—‘unanimously well-qualified.’ And he comes highly recommended by peers and colleagues from across the political spectrum.”
The Fifth Circuit has jurisdiction over Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, and the seat in question traditionally belongs to a Texas pick. Oldham enjoyed enthusiastic support from both Texas senators, Cornyn and Cruz.
With Oldham, the Senate has now confirmed 23 judges to the U.S. courts of appeals since President Trump’s Inauguration. In 2017, the president set a new all-time record for first-year confirmations, installing 12 judges to lifetime appointments. (The previous record was 11.) Now the Senate has added 11 more, with a 12th scheduled for late Thursday, and still more in the pipeline for the next few weeks.
This feat is all the more remarkable given the unprecedented obstruction by Senate Democrats. A nominee like Oldham would have been confirmed 99-0 if nominated 20 years ago. After Democrats politicized the confirmation of appellate judges in Bush 43’s first term, Oldham would still have picked up Democrat senators in Republican states, which with the current Senate map should have at minimum resulted in a 60-39 vote.
But even in the hyper-partisan opposition to President Trump’s nominees, several of the most vulnerable red-state Democrats who face tough reelection fights in 2018 would typically have crossed the aisle to make the confirmation bipartisan. On Oldham’s Fifth Circuit, the recent confirmation of Judge Jim Ho was 53-44 and Judge Kurt Engelhardt was 62-34.
Yet Senate Democrats voted as a bloc against Oldham’s confirmation. Not a single red-state Democrat voted in favor, just as they had against Judge Don Willet and Judge Kyle Duncan, both of whom were confirmed 50-47.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.