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Senate GOP Set To Get Back to Business, Confirm Another Trump-Appointed Judge

When the Senate returns next week, Republicans will seek to deepen the indelible stamp of President Donald Trump on the judicial branch of America’s government.
But they likely face a fight to confirm District Judge Justin Walker’s nomination to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, one of the nation’s most high-profile courts.
In a little over three years in office, Trump has appointed 51 circuit court judges, which amounts to 28 percent of the nation’s circuit judges, according to The Guardian. He is four shy of former President Barack Obama’s total over eight years.
The judges, who serve life terms, have a median age of 48.2 years, meaning that they can easily serve 20 years on the bench.
Ballotpedia noted that Trump has nominated 253 judges overall, of whom 192 have been confirmed, and that of the 81 vacancies in the federal judiciary as of early April, the president had nominated 42 judges. The site said that puts Trump within shouting distance of the record for a first-term president, held by Jimmy Carter with 262 nominations.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told GOP senators in a conference call that moving forward with judicial appointments was high on his agenda, The New York Times reported.
According to The Hill, Senate Judiciary Committee Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is planning a Wednesday hearing on Walker, which has Democrats calling for delays.
Some Democrats claim coronavirus issues are the only thing lawmakers should be addressing now.
“We understand that you intend to hold a nominations hearing on Wednesday, May 6. Given the importance of focusing on the committee’s work on responding to the public health and economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, we ask you to delay this hearing until the committee has had the opportunity to address COVID-related issues,” Judiciary Committee Democrats wrote to Graham.
But McConnell said the Confirmation Express is going to start rolling the minute the Senate gets back in town.
“As soon as we get back in session, we’ll start confirming judges again,” McConnell told radio host Hugh Hewitt recently. “My motto for the year is ‘Leave No Vacancy Behind.’ That hasn’t changed. The pandemic will not prevent us from achieving that goal.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York slammed McConnell for that.
“It seems what he wants to do is have us vote for, have hearings on a judge who is sort of a crony of his, someone who used to work on his staff who was rated unqualified by the ABA,” Schumer said, according to NBC News. “People are hurting. People are dying. We ought to use this time to exercise our oversight authority.”
Senate Democrats have a battle if they hope to derail Walker’s nomination. It only takes a simple majority to confirm the 37-year-old’s appointment, and no opposition was raised when he was confirmed to his current position as a district court judge in Kentucky.
Walker, who graduated from Harvard Law School, clerked for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh when Kavanaugh was a D.C. circuit judge, as well as former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, however, opposes him on the grounds that his record is “zealous opposition to health care access.”
“At this perilous time in our nation’s history, the Senate should maintain a laser focus on efforts to save lives and mitigate the devastating economic impact of COVID-19 on the American people,” Vanita Gupta, the group’s CEO, said in a statement. “The Senate should not process judicial nominations – particularly those like Mr. Walker who seek to dismantle health care protections for vulnerable people – until the shock of the pandemic has been diminished.”
But despite opposition, the president has pressed forward.
“Trump’s impact on the federal judiciary has been profound,” Paul Butler, a professor at Georgetown Law, said, according to PBS. “If there’s a contest about the future of law, of judicial interpretations, Republicans have won.”

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