As Senate Democrats oppose President Trump’s judicial nominees for bad reasons and no reasons, they are damaging the Senate as institution long-term. A quick example of each.
The Democrats are using procedural motions to delay the confirmation of NON-CONTROVERSIAL nominees:
The Senate has confirmed just seven judges this year, including Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. There are 149 judicial vacancies right now, compared to the 108 Trump started the year with. Trump has so far sent nominees for 50 of the current vacancies. . . .
The majority leader has primarily blamed Democrats for dragging out the pace on confirming Trump's nominees.
“Up until now, our friends across the aisle have thrown up one unnecessary procedural hurdle after the next on even the most uncontroversial of nominees,” McConnell said as the Senate confirmed Ralph Erickson to the Eighth Circuit late last month. “In many cases, our Democratic colleagues actually do support the nominees. Just as they do now. This has got to stop. It’s time to end these games.”
Democrats cannot outright block nominees, given the GOP’s 52-senator majority. But they can require procedural votes and drag out the time after each procedural vote for 30 hours.
While it is damaging to the institution of the Senate to delay a worthy nominee just because that nomination was made by a President of an opposing party, what is worse is bigoted attacks on nominees. A prime example of this is the attacks on the religious beliefs of 7th Circuit nominee Professor Amy Barrett. As Chairman Grassley said when discussing the obstructions tactics before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week:
Professor Amy Barrett is nominated to serve on the 7th Circuit. She is an eminently qualified and exceptionally bright nominee who has received praise and support across the legal profession. But I was surprised and disheartened by the line of questioning that took place during her hearing.
During her hearing, my friends in the minority raised concerns over and asked questions about her personal religious beliefs. Specifically, her Catholic beliefs. And their questions strongly implied that she’s too Catholic for their taste, whatever it means to be “too Catholic.”
I mention this because I fear the Committee is heading down a dangerous road if we continue to ask nominees questions like this. The Constitution specifically provides that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office under the United States.” It’s one of the most important founding principles. . . .
We received many letters on this topic including one from Princeton University’s President who is a former law clerk to Justice Stevens and a constitutional scholar. He writes that the questions posed to Professor Barrett about her faith were “not consistent with the principle set forth in the Constitution’s ‘no religious test’ clause” and that the views expressed in her law review article on Catholic judges are “fully consistent with a judge’s obligation to uphold the law and the Constitution.”
Senate Democrats may feel they are just doing their part in a political game to resist President Trump. Reality is they are permanently damaging the Senate by their obstructionist and possibly bigoted tactics that have no place in the Senate.