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Members of Congress Should Resist Trump's Terrible Judicial Nominees

Amidst the chaos of the Trump era, at least one thing is consistent: Trump nominates terrible, extreme, and unqualified judicial nominees.

Now, Mitch McConnell has changed the Senate’s rules to make it even easier for Trump to pack the courts. On April 3rd, McConnell used the “nuclear option” (changing the Senate rules through a simple majority) to slash the amount of time the Senate must debate the nomination of District Court judges.

McConnell is determined to stack the courts with as many conservative judges as possible, as fast as possible. He’s complaining that he needs to make this chance because of Democratic “obstruction,” but the reality is that many of these judicial seats are only open because McConnell and his Republican Senate colleagues spent the entire Obama administration working to ensure that as few of President Obama’s nominees as possible would be confirmed.

The unfortunate truth is that we don’t have the power to block every single judicial nominee. But Members of Congress who claim to stand against racism, sexism, homophobia and all prejudice can and should do a lot more to delay and stop these egregious nominations from moving forward.

Here’s what you need to know.

Members of Congress can use procedural tactics to delay and block bad judges

For nominees who are still pending, there are ways for Members of Congress to pump the brakes.

Judiciary Committee members are especially equipped to resist bad nominations:

  • Judiciary Committee members and leadership must vocally push back against efforts to hold sham hearings: that means saying no to ramming through nominees on days the Senate is not in session, scheduling too many hearings in a row, and stacking too many nominees at the same hearing.
  • Judiciary Committee members must show up to every nomination hearing engaged and active, ask detailed and thorough questions to expose each nominee’s extremism or lack of qualifications, demand key documents, and insist that they receive answers to each question.
  • Members of the Judiciary Committee can also utilize a number of procedural tools in their toolbox when the committee meets for markups, to ensure that there is sufficient time to debate and consider the nominees, and to prevent a rushed vote.
  • Judiciary Committee members also can and should make strong statements expressing their concerns about the bad nominees each time there is opportunity within the committee’s proceedings.

Senator Schumer, as Minority Leader, can refuse to make deals with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that result in scores of Trump nominees sliding through to confirmation. In order to move things along in the Senate, or get concessions from McConnell on other items, sometimes Democratic leadership agrees to allow packages of ultraconservative Trump judges to move forward unimpeded by pairing them with so-called “uncontroversial” nominees. The truth is, this still speeds up consideration for the queue of Trump judges overall, including the totally unacceptable ones. Denying these deals is one way to ensure senators have the full time to consider every nominee.

All Members of Congress can use their bully pulpit to delay and block bad judges

  • All Members of Congress can and should speak out early and often against nominees that are extreme and dangerous. They should use the power of their platform to draw attention to the most egregious nominees and urge their colleagues to oppose them.
  • Senators should use the full 2 hours of time available for debate between cloture and final confirmation votes by filling the time with floor statements. (It used to be 30 hours, but McConnell forced through a rules change in order to stack the courts with even more Trump judges.)
  • House Democrats should hold oversight hearings and investigate nominees who have served in the Trump administration to bring to light their roles in the administration’s egregious policies.
  • And, of course, all senators should vote against the dangerous nominees.

Ask your Members of Congress to do everything in their power to block Trump’s dangerous judicial nominees.