Dems begin to panic as Trump set to transform federal judiciary
While Democrats obsess over the Russia hacking fantasy and Robert Mueller as Trump's Javert, President Trump, the Federalist Society, and Senator Chuck Grassley are on the way to making the federal judiciary great again. The Huffington Post noticed and is worried:
Trump is unbelievably well-positioned to fill up federal courts with lifetime judges. He inherited a whopping 108 court vacancies when he became president – double the number of vacancies President Barack Obama inherited when he took office.
The reason Trump gets to fill so many seats is partly because Obama was slow to fill court vacancies early in his tenure. But the main reason is Republicans' years-long strategy of denying votes to Obama's court picks. They refused to recommend judicial nominees, filibustered others, used procedural rules to drag out the confirmation process and, by Obama's final year, blocked nominees they had recommended just to prevent him from filling more seats.
Yep: Sometimes the Stupid Party actually does its job. Elections have consequences, and when voters handed control of the Senate to the GOP, Senator Grassley – the very opposite of a showboater – did his job as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee with skill. Now he is poised to capitalize on that control, using the Dems' "Reid Rule" that abolished the filibuster for judicial nominations, and will supplement it with another reform that will prevent Dems from obstructing appointments to the Circuit Courts of Appeals:
[Senator Grassley] is under pressure from conservatives to do away with the committee's "blue slip" rule, which requires both senators from a nominee's home state to turn in blue slips of paper in order for the nominee to get a hearing.
Senators are typically involved in the judicial selection process, so it's rare for them not to turn in a blue slip for a nominee from their home state. But if Trump is nominating judges based on what The Federalist Society recommends, for example, blue slips allow Democrats in the Senate to block those nominations indefinitely if they are appointed to courts in their home states.
Grassley has suggested he may not require blue slips for circuit court nominees, but he hasn't been definitive. Given the intra-party pressure he's under, he may just be trying to appease conservatives by saying as much. Such a change would mean that circuit court nominees from states with one or two Democratic senators could get a hearing and a vote without the support of those senators. But that change could come back to bite Republicans down the road, when they're back in the minority and want to use that tool.
The era of protecting Senate traditions that enable the minority to stymie the majority is over. Democrats killed it. Virtually no one on the right has any faith that Democrats will let such rules stand in their way when they are in the majority. Harry Reid proved that for all time. It is his lasting legacy that he has transformed the Senate from the "saucer that cools the coffee" into something a lot more like the House of Representatives.
The left adores judges who believe that their job is to make society better by interpreting laws in new and creative ways. Once leftists discovered they could make up stuff like the "penumbra" of the Constitution and that judges could pretend their policy choices were required by law, despite no direct wording to that effect, the door was open to impose the Progressive Agenda without all the messiness of approving legislation in Congress, where the people have a voice.
That undemocratic – indeed, anti-democratic – approach to governing, wherein the elite discusses theories in academic journals, and then activist judges impose those theories as law, is popular among the cultural elite, because they believe themselves to be something like philosopher-kings, entitled to rule others by their superior wisdom. Their cultural preferences, such as same-sex marriage, gain the authority of law thereby.
Restoring a judiciary that believes its job is to interpret, not make up, the law is a reform that cannot happen fast enough.
Hat tip: Legal Insurrection