Senate Democrats are using a Republican-pushed maneuver to swiftly confirm judicial nominees, but some realize they may need to pick up the pace.
Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-IL) is continuing a GOP move to end the veto power of home-state senators over circuit court nominees, which Republicans used during Barack Obama's presidency but ended under Donald Trump, and has sped up the confirmation of President Joe Biden's nominees, reported Politico.
“Senate Democrats and the Biden administration are not allowing Republicans to play by one set of rules and Democrats by the other,” said Christopher Kang, chief counsel for the liberal group Demand Justice. “Of course they should take advantage of the fact that blue slips don’t exist anymore for circuit court judges, and obviously the fact that the time has decreased now to two hours for district court nominees.”
Democratic senators have pointed out that Biden is filling vacancies in red or purple states for judges that have been largely appointed by Democratic presidents, but they are ready to move even faster with the midterms looming at the end of the year and Republicans threatening to stall Biden's nominees if they win back the majority.
"I obviously hope we keep the Senate," said one Democratic Judiciary panel aide. "But if not, time is of the essence, and I think everyone is keenly aware on that front.”
Biden has not filled a Supreme Court seat so far during his time in office, unlike Obama and Trump at the same point in their terms, but Democrats have confirmed a modern-era record 42 judges he nominated, and they could get even more vacancies to fill if more judges step aside by taking "senior status" -- much to the chagrin of conservatives.
“The Democrats have had the benefit of no 30-hour rule for post-cloture debate for district court nominations,"aid Carrie Severino, president of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, "unlike the first half of the Trump administration, so the Biden confirmation pace is not an apples-to-apples comparison."