Last Thursday, the Washington Post looked into the general misconception that President Trump is "rush[ing] to fill the courts" and the Senate is confirming judicial nominees at a record pace. The short answer is they are not--except for appellate judgeships. The article had three key takeaways:
Trump may seem like the rabbit in this story — quick out of the gate. But that’s only compared to Obama’s slower pace. Below, we show the total number of federal judges confirmed by the Senate through the first 17 months of a president’s term in office. . . As of May 31, 2018, the GOP-led Senate had confirmed 39 of Trump’s judicial nominations, including one Supreme Court justice. This places him second to last compared to the number of confirmed judges at this point in the term for presidents dating back to Ronald Reagan in 1981-82; only Obama comes in behind him. . .
Where Trump and Senate Republicans stand out is in confirming appellate court judges. The GOP Senate has confirmed 21 of Trump’s nominations for judges to the courts of appeals — far outstripping others presidents’ records at this point in their terms, dating back to Reagan.
Some believe that this focus on the appellate courts is a Trump administration strategy because these courts have a more powerful effect on policy and legal change. The courts of appeals hear all appeals from the federal trial courts and the federal bureaucracy. They hold authority over large regions of the nation. Their cases, like almost all of the U.S. Supreme Court’s cases, deal exclusively with how to interpret federal laws, executive orders, bureaucratic regulations and rules and the Constitution. . .
In 2013, the Democrats were in charge of the Senate — and banned filibusters of judicial nominations on the lower federal courts. That means today’s Republican Senate can confirm nominees with a simple majority vote. . . . Yet eliminating the filibuster has not appreciably sped up confirmation of federal judges. On average, it has taken almost 190 days for the Senate to confirm each of Trump’s appellate and trial court judges. That is appreciably longer than previous presidents’ records. . . .
Also note, administration nominees are also being relentlessly delayed and obstructed by Senate Democrats in a manner previously unseen, which is resulting in the cancellation of the Senate's August Recess (recently discussed here).
Despite Senate Democrat obstruction tactics (discussed at lengthed here) to delay many nominees, Chairman Grassley and Senate Majority Leader McConnell are keeping up the pressure and working get President Trump's qualified judges and administration nominees confirmed by the Senate. The RNLA thanks them for their hard, important work.