The blue-state senators least resistant to Trump’s judicial picks

Despite highly charged partisan atmosphere, some senators from blue states cast votes for President Trump’s judicial picks

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., talks with reporters before heading to the Senate floor on Aug. 1, 2019.  (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., talks with reporters before heading to the Senate floor on Aug. 1, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted March 12, 2020 at 6:01am

Votes on judicial nominees were once a mostly nonpartisan affair. But since Democrats decided in 2013 to reduce the threshold for confirmation to 50 votes from 60, votes on judges have become much more polarized.

Still, in 2019, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed 105 federal judges through to confirmation, the Democratic Caucus found itself deeply divided, with liberal senators voting rarely, or even never, for a Trump judge.

Democrats from GOP-leaning states were often supportive, by contrast, with Joe Manchin III of West Virginia casting the most “yeas,” 67 of them, compared with 27 “nays.” (That was out of 96 total confirmation votes on judges.)

But there were some Democrats from states that opposed Trump in 2016 who also cast many “yes” votes. The one who did most often was Thomas R. Carper, the Delaware Democrat, who voted 50 times for Trump’s picks while voting against 46 times.

Carper, along with Delaware colleague Chris Coons, reached a deal with Trump in 2017 on two new judges for the District Court in their state. That, perhaps, set a tone for greater consideration of Trump’s other appointees.

Carper said he evaluates each judge for “good judgment” and “good judicial temperament.”

At the same time, he voted against nearly half of Trump’s appointees last year, he said, because the president “has put forward some of the most unqualified judicial nominees in modern history.”