The U.S. Senate approved President Donald Trump’s 150th judicial nominee on Wednesday, far outpacing the benchmark set by Barack Obama at the same point in his presidency.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham characterized the number of confirmations to date as a “historic milestone,” The Washington Times reported.
“These conservative judicial appointments will impact our nation for years to come,” the South Carolina Republican said.
According to The Times, six district court nominees were approved on Wednesday, bringing the total number of judges Trump has appointed to lower federal courts to 105.
The 45th president has also successfully appointed 43 circuit court judges and two Supreme Court justices so far.
According to The Heritage Foundation’s “Judicial Appointment Tracker,” Obama had appointed 92 judges at the same point during his time in office.
Trump is outpacing all recent presidents dating back to Ronald Reagan, with the exception of Bill Clinton, who had placed 154 judges on the bench.
When Trump assumed office, there were 97 openings in the federal judiciary, which is comparable to Obama, who had 93 to fill.
More positions have opened since the Republican became president in January 2017, due to retirements and other normal attrition.
Only George H.W. Bush had more openings than Trump when he became chief executive, with 142.
Heritage Foundation’s senior legal fellow Thomas Jipping told The Western Journal earlier this summer that Trump’s success in making judicial appointments has come despite Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer employing unprecedented tactics to slow-walk the president’s nominees.
“Democrats are forcing the Senate to take a cloture vote, a separate vote to end debate, on every single judicial nomination,” Jipping said.
“That is unprecedented in American history,” he added. “That has never happened before, where across the board you have the opposition party in the Senate just automatically opposing a president’s nominees simply because of the president who nominated them. It’s never happened before.”
Jipping, who served as counsel to former Senate Judiciary chair Orrin Hatch, explained that once nominees clear the committee, they must be scheduled for a full Senate confirmation vote, but Schumer is refusing to cooperate with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to do so.
When the minority party does not cooperate, it requires a cloture vote by the Senate to end debate on each nominee, which, if successful, still triggers 30 additional hours for deliberations before the full vote can be held.
The effect is to slow down the vote for two to three legislative days. Of course, there are only a finite number of legislative days a year, on average around 160.
The Heritage Foundation judicial tracker shows Democrats have required a cloture vote on approximately 72 percent of Trump’s nominees so far. The figure is an even higher 88 percent for circuit court nominees.
By way of comparison, Republicans forced a cloture vote on just 3 percent of Obama’s nominees at the same point, including 10 percent of his picks for circuit court.
“The kind of opposition that judges are facing today isn’t being reported, isn’t being told,” Jipping said. “And yet, that’s in my opinion the most radical change in this particular era in how our government is functioning.”
The liberal advocacy group People for the American Way responded to Trump’s 150th appointment on Wednesday, expressing concern about the impact he is having on the judiciary.
“As of today’s confirmation votes, Trump and McConnell have confirmed 150 judges to the federal bench — a group that can overwhelmingly be described as narrow-minded and elitist, favoring corporations and the powerful over the interests of all Americans,” a statement from the group read.
In an Op-Ed published in Newsweek last month, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich praised McConnell’s leadership on moving judicial nominees through the Senate.
“If Trump is re-elected (and McConnell gets re-elected in Kentucky) at this pace by the end of the second term they will have appointed and confirmed over half of all our federal judges,” Gingrich wrote.
“When you think about the lifetime nature of these appointments, you can see why McConnell can legitimately be considered a master of the judiciary as well as the Senate.”
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