Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York recently excoriated President Donald Trump for appointing judges who were rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Association, but there’s a bit of dissonance amid the criticism because Schumer himself has supported nominees who bore that rating.
“As a senator, I have now worked with four separate administrations, Democrat and Republican, on the appointment of federal judges. I can say with perfect confidence that over the last three years, President Trump has nominated — and Senate Republicans have approved — the most unqualified and radical nominees in my time in this body,” Schumer said last week, according to The New York Times.
Schumer said three recent nominees, two for the U.S. District Court and one for the U.S. Court of Appeals, received a “not qualified rating” from the American Bar Association.
“How the heck do we put these people on the bench?” Schumer said in Senate floor remarks.
Then, after saying the issue was not ideology, Schumer attacked the ideology of Trump’s appointees.
“President Trump has nominated judges who are way out on the very extremes of jurisprudence, right-wing ideologues whose views cut against the majority of Americans on nearly every issue. The judges he’s nominating disagree with a vast majority of Americans on issue after issue after issue.
“Whether it’s women’s health and the right of a woman to make her own medical decisions, whether it’s legal protections for LGBTQ Americans, whether it’s the right of workers and collective bargaining, whether it’s fair access to the ballot box and voting rights, whether it’s the most commonsense gun laws and environmental protections.
“These nominees have views way to the right of even the average Republican, let alone the average American,” he said.
But what was not said was that the “not qualified” rating didn’t mean much to Schumer in the appointment of Vanessa Bryant, according to The Federalist.
Bryant was appointed to the U.S. District Court in Connecticut during the administration of former President George W. Bush, when Schumer was on the Senate Judiciary Committee and backed her nomination.
At the time then-Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, now a U.S. senator, said the “not qualified” rating meant little because it used information from anonymous sources.
In its reporting on Trump’s judicial appointments, The Federalist noted that Schumer has supported other nominees who have received a “not qualified” rating.
But what happened on Schumer’s watch that might color his commentary is that Trump has now appointed 25 percent of the nation’s circuit court judges, according to a Twitter post from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
That’s 45 new lifetime appellate judges committed to the key principle that judges should apply our laws and the Constitution as they are actually written, not as the judge might personally wish they’d been written.
— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) November 7, 2019
“In recent decades, our system has been under relentless attack by the left-wing activists who want to take the powers of the elected branches and give that power to unelected federal judges. They want to impose by judicial decree what they failed to win at the ballot box. Does that sound familiar to anybody? That’s really familiar,” Trump said.
“When judges write policy instead of applying the law, they impose sweeping changes on millions of Americans without the benefit of legislative debate, public rulemaking, or the consent of the governed. As a result, these highly political rulings inflict painful damage on our security, society, and economy, imposing unworkable edicts on businesses, workers, families, and law enforcements, really, alike. They give many, many bad nights to many, many people, including presidents. Including presidents. But we power through it. We have no choice,” Trump said.
Trump also noted the impact of his appointments.
“No president in history has confirmed as many Circuit Court judges, even close — not even close — in such a short period of time. The average age of my newly appointed Circuit Court judges is less than 50. They’re young, smart. That’s 10 years younger than President Obama’s nominees,” he said.
At that ceremony, McConnell said that, thanks to Trump’s 2016 victory, “we got a chance to set the agenda, just an opportunity to move the ball in the right direction. What’s the most important thing? Clearly, it was the Supreme Court. You had been helped enormously by a decision that I made — and these guys will back me up — not to let President Obama fill that Scalia vacancy on the way out the door.
“And, boy, you didn’t blow it. Neil Gorsuch is an all-star, isn’t he?” McConnell said. “And the president alluded to that easy confirmation we had with Brett Kavanaugh. You made a great choice, Mr. President.
“And it’s not just that. The circuit courts, where 99 percent of litigation stops, are full of bright, young men and women who believe in the quaint notion that maybe the job of a judge is to follow the law. And so, Mr. President, this is one of the many ways you’re helping to make America great again,” McConnell said.
During the ceremony, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina noted that one nomination stands out above the rest: The successful Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation fight.
“The defining moment of your presidency, for me, was the Kavanaugh hearing,” Graham said. “This room would be empty if we had failed Brett Kavanaugh. Brett Kavanaugh lived a life we should all be proud of. He worked hard. And the way he was treated was the worst experience I’ve had in politics.
“A lot of people would have pulled the plug on him. Mr. President, thank you for not pulling the plug on Brett Kavanaugh.”
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