Blue Slips, Judicial Nominations, and poor Democratic tactics

As an example of how the Democratic leadership can shoot itself in the foot, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee released a report last week called a Review of Republican Efforts to Stack Federal Courts. Some excerpts:

In an effort seemingly to raise alarm bells, what I read is a report on how effective Congress has been in confirming Trump’s nominees. Among the sea of failures to choose from, Democrats in Congress seem to be highlighting the biggest area of Republican success – confirmed judicial nominations.

I’m not sure that the reason for alarm bells was about the efficiency of congress of doing something that it wants to do.

Rather, the alarm bells are how they slow walked as many of Obama’s appointees as possible so that there would be as many vacancies as possible for when they had a conservative president to nominate the people that they want him to nominate.

All you are saying here is that the republicans are better at game playing than democrats, when they are not there to play games but to run a country.

Maybe in circuit courts, but overall Trump is limping far behind every President since Reagan in judicial confirmations when you equalize for time in office. (I didn’t check back any further than that.) He’s at a roughly 2/3 pace behind the one with the least confirmations, Dubya.

When the Senate has literally no interest in legislating, they can process a lot of judicial nominations. There’s been only 34 votes on actual bills or amendments this whole year.

For those interested in the cites:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_federal_judges_appointed_by_Donald_Trump

He has 39 approved now (one more than when I last checked). Equalizing that to 8 years comes out to 236 total. And I found an expanded list of appointments by President:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Presidents_of_the_United_States_by_judicial_appointments

Obama: 329
Dubya: 327
Clinton: 378
Bush (doubled for only serving one term): 386
Reagan: 382
Carter (again, doubled): a whopping 524. He had more appointments in one term than Trump is on pace for in (Og forbid) two terms.

You have to go back to Ford for less (equalized) confirmations, with roughly 213.

The way I understand it, is that all nominations are being delayed by cloture votes which results in a minimum number of hours of debate. But actual debate isn’t happening - it’s just a stalling tactic. This is the current norm in the Senate, and started during Obama’s first term. Given those constraints, prioritizing circuit judges over district judges seems like a better tactical move. I think judges are being confirmed essentially as fast as possible given senate rules.

I consider the dearth of actual legislation a positive. :slight_smile:

But the whole point is that, if you asked, they’d presumably explain that they believed Obama’s choices would’ve been comparatively bad for the country, and that these other folks are comparatively good for the country; that they’ve been doing this not for the sake of playing a game, but for the good of the country.

(And the Dems can of course reply with a quick Nuh-Uh, We Have A Different Idea Of What’s Good For The Country — but so what? All that means is that it’s not a mere game for them, either; sometimes, each side is out to do what it thinks is best.)

I read your post wrong on my first pass, but re-reading I think I understand better. Yes that is what I think the intent was, to raise the alarm that there are many vacancies being filled by the Trump administration. My point was that it does that, but the method the Democratic leadership is employing to do that is to tout how successful the Republicans have been. It’s like, ‘those guys are awful, look at how effective they are!’ The Republicans don’t have to do anything to this report to use it as a campaign ad.

This is the same sort of feeling I get when I saw a Fox News report that listed the current President’s “accomplishments”, many of which would only be seen as positive things by those who were already supportive of him. Great job highlighting the reasons why a lot of people aren’t happy with him.

Overall, Trump is actually appointing fewer judges than other presidents did when you consider how long he has been president.

The only issue is the appellate court. Trump has appointed 21 appellate judges in 16 months, Obama did 55 over 8 years. Clinton did 66 in 8 years.

McConnell and Trump know what they’re doing. Maybe someday the democrats as a party will actually fight for their beliefs and constituents instead of trying to be friends with everyone. if the democrats win the senate in 2018, they need to block every judge Trump appoints. Spinelessly begging the GOP for friendship doesn’t work, Obama should have taught us that.

And there are more cans of peas in the vegetable aisle than ever before under the new manager. Yet somehow every previous manager for 40 years has run the grocery store at a better rate of growth.

To be clear, are you saying the Democratic leadership should be touting the content of the report as a success? Because it seems like you disagree with their assessment. Do I have that right?

I’m not sure who you are responding to here. If it is to Johnny Ace, that doesn’t make any sense. Would you consider a grocery manager who is running a less profitable store than his predecessors, but does have more cans of peas in the vegetable isle to be a “success”?

Let’s say that the EPA removes restrictions on coal fired power plants producing and releasing sulfur and nitrogen compounds into the air, or what they and other industry may dump into the rivers.

That would be a “success” in that they accomplished something, but that something is directly harmful to the public. The only ones who would consider it a success would be those who are profiting from it, everyone else that is harmed by it would not consider it so.

And those who claim, as has been done in this thread, that the less legislation the better, no matter what it does.

Wouldn’t that philosophy also extend to claiming the less judiciation, the better? It would not then be a success for there to be more judges “making law” or whatever the current buzzword is.

The response was to Johnny. The store analogy isn’t very good because a for profit store has a clear profit objective. That’s not the same with government. The idea here is that there is a fast pace of circuit judge appointments, and a slow pace of district court judges, relative to recent history.

The democratic leadership who authored the report are touting this as a bad thing. My question to Johnny is if he agrees with the report authors that this outcome is undesirable, or if he thinks that it’s actually a positive thing because of the slow pace of district judge appointments.

For me, one of the things I was hoping for out of a Trump administration was a stacking of the judiciary. SCOTUS, the Circuit courts, and the district courts, in that order of priority. So while the authors of the report probably thought this was some kind of damning revelation, raising the alarm so to speak, I don’t see it that way. To me, they wrote a campaign ad for the Republicans.

Profit motive or whatever doesn’t matter. The idea was that predecessors ran the whole store well, this one does not run it well, but in this one particular area, an area that doesn’t really scream “success” he does a bit more.

That doesn’t leave much room for what is most likely. That it is a positive thing that more are not being pushed through faster, sure, but it is still a negative thing that these ones are being pushed through.

Ah, they are fulfilling your partisan desires. Of course you would like them to continue to do so, even if the judges are completely unqualified, have no diversity, and will simply rule how their party masters tell them to.

I mean, if we are writing campaign ads for the other party, then the dems coming out with an ad that talks about the gutting of the EPA, or the labor board, or the department of education, or umm, that other one… oops, would be like writing it for the republicans. When the things that the two parties want are at odds with each other, then any movement is by definition a rallying wake up cry for one side, and a success story for the other.

Same as if dems were in charge, and the republicans were complaining about how the EPA cut sulfur dioxide emissions by 85%, or increased the number of people with access to healthcare, or improved public education outcomes. Those are things that republicans are against, and would use as a rallying cry to motivate their base, while the dems would be using those as motivators to their base to get them to help keep doing what they are doing.

I guess, ultimately, I don’t understand the point of the OP. You seem to be confused about why the dems would bring up this point, even going so far as to claim that it is shooting themselves in the foot. Anyone who has the slightest knowledge of the govt functions over the last few years knows exactly why the republicans are able to push these nominees through, and it isn’t really anything special about the republicans. But, the democrats reminding their base of what the stakes are, if they don’t retake the senate, that more of these unqualified judges will be pushed through a partisan senate, makes perfect sense, and is in no way “shoot[ing] [them]selves in the foot.”

As others have noted, it’s only a campaign ad for Republicans if it’s being read by Republicans. To Democrats and other non-conservatives, it’s a wake-up call.

To put it in conservative terms, an equivalent report by the Republicans in 1934 would have talked about all the New Deal legislation that had been enacted since 1932. It wouldn’t be intended to say how successful Roosevelt and the Democrats had been. It would be to remind conservative voters why they needed to get out and vote in November to stop the juggernaut.

My main read on that report is that they claim that the Republicans are using unfair tactics in their push to change the judiciary. A report that said the Patriots won 6 of their last 8 games would be a positive report on this team. But a report that said the patriots won 6 of their last 8 games by deflating the football is not.

Sorry, I haven’t been around in a bit… I didn’t think I was being that cryptic.

First, I deliberately didn’t say profit. I said rate of growth. The metaphor was specifically to be applied to the number of judges confirmed. People are talking about how he has more circuit and appellate judges confirmed than ever before, yet still somehow he’s lagging far behind every other President for 40 years in overall confirmations.

Unless you are a Patriots fan, in which case, “Rah, Rah, Rah, Go Patriots!”

The rest of the league sees them as cheaters, but the fans just see them as winners.