The Senate is still away, but its Judiciary Committee keeps plugging away.
The panel is scheduled to hold another likely sparsely attended confirmation hearing on Wednesday to hear from more of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees, including a Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals selection opposed by home-state Democratic senators.
Two nominees for the Ninth Circuit will be on the committee’s first panel.
Bridget S. Bade of Arizona has been nominated for one of the seats. A current federal magistrate and former assistant U.S. attorney, Bade was recommended to the Trump White House by Sen. Jeff Flake and then-Sen. John McCain.
And while Democrats might be loath to endorse a Ninth Circuit nominee backed by an all-GOP delegation, it’s the other nominee that could attract more of the partisan fireworks
Assistant Democratic Leader Patty Murray issued a statement Tuesday calling for the nomination of Eric Miller, a partner at Perkins Coie, to be held over at least until the Senate returns to legislative session.
“Senate Republicans have been trampling on long-standing Senate norms in order to rush extreme conservatives onto the courts as quickly as they can, and this needs to end,” the Democrat from Washington said. “So I am not going to be complicit in this latest rushed process to load the courts with Trump nominees in the lame duck session and I will not be returning the blue slip that signals my approval of this process.”
Miller has been nominated by Trump for a seat on the California-based appeals court that is connected to Murray’s home state.
In a letter last week, Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley said he believed both Murray and fellow Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell had been adequately consulted by the Trump administration, including conversations with then-White House counsel Don McGahn.
In the letter, Grassley reiterated his position that circuit nominations should not be stopped by senators failing to turn in blue slips — which are a way of showing their consent for the process to move forward.
“I do not believe that the President is required to choose a circuit-court nominee approved by a state’s judicial selection committee, but the White House staff’s actions demonstrate respect for the Senate’s consultative role in the nomination process,” Grassley wrote.
The Wednesday hearing will follow a similar session held last week, which was headlined by the nomination of Allison Jones Rushing to the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Also on Wednesday’s committee schedule are the nominations Karin Immergut for a district judgeship in Oregon and Richard Hertling for the Court of Federal Claims.
Hertling might get some attention from senators, as well. Before shifting to private practice, he was staff director of the House Judiciary Committee, served in senior roles in the Justice Department during the George W. Bush administration and, according to a biography circulated by the White House, previously worked for four senators, Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Fred Thompson, along with Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Peter G. Fitzgerald of Illinois.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellhas said repeatedly that continuing to confirm lifetime appointments to the federal bench (especially at the appellate level) would a priority for the lame-duck, and it could determine how long senators stay at the Capitol in November and December.
“We’ve done 29 so far this Congress,” McConnell said at a Ripon Society last week, speaking of confirming appeals court picks. “That’s a record for any administration in the first two years. We’ve done 84 judges overall. We’re going to do more of them before the end of the year.”
That is of course in addition to the two associate justices of the Supreme Court confirmed by the Senate under Trump and McConnell: Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh.
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