Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is asking retirement-eligible conservative judges to consider stepping down in the coming months so that President Trump can appoint their replacements, according to a new report.
The Times also did not disclose when the Kentucky Republican began speaking with judges, but wrote he is urging older judges appointed by former GOP presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush to retire “by late summer or early fall.”
“Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, who has used his position as majority leader to build a judicial confirmation juggernaut for President Trump over the past three years, has been personally reaching out to judges to sound them out on their plans and assure them that they would have a worthy successor if they gave up their seats soon, according to multiple people with knowledge of his actions,” according to The Times.
The paper reported that with a chance Republicans could lose the Senate and/or the White House in November, McConnell is acting now.
A spokesman for McConnell told The Times that the Republican’s interest in opening up vacancies should come as no surprise.
“I’d point you back to his long-running mantra of ‘leave no vacancy behind,’” David Popp said.
McConnell has placed great importance on filling federal court vacancies with conservative judges.
“The Senate majority leader has made confirming the president’s judicial nominees his ‘top priority,’” The Economist reported last month.
“Republicans have scheduled confirmation hearings during Senate recesses, and packed several hearings into a single day, over objections from their Democratic colleagues.”
In fact, roughly one in four federal appeals court judges are now Trump appointees.
A White House news release noted in November that Trump’s historic number of judicial appointments have given conservatives majorities on a number of federal courts.
“President Trump is committed to appointing judges who set aside their personal views and political prejudices to do what the Constitution and the law demand,” the news release added.
The president campaigned heavily on a promise to appoint judges who would uphold the rule of law in determining cases.
During the 2016 election, he offered up a list of potential Supreme Court nominees who he said would uphold the principles of the Constitution.
His campaign said the list was “first and foremost, based on constitutional principles, with input from highly respected conservatives and Republican Party leadership,” Politico reported.
At a Fox News town hall event earlier this month, Trump celebrated successfully appointing more than 200 federal judges and two Supreme Court justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, since his inauguration.
“Now, we’ve appointed 220 federal judges — the most, I think, in history. It’s a record,” he said.
“Mitch McConnell did a great job and the Republicans did a great job.”
We have appointed 220 Federal Judges and two Supreme Court Justices. PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT! pic.twitter.com/fVw6tJ89Wd
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 6, 2020
“But the bottom line is, President Obama gave me 142 openings when I first got there,” Trump added.
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