Today, at the end of a long executive business meeting, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to report favorably the nominations of William Barr to be Attorney General and 44 judicial nominees, including circuit court nominees Bridget S. Bade (Ninth Circuit), Paul B. Matey (Third Circuit), Eric D. Miller (Ninth Circuit), Eric E. Murphy (Sixth Circuit), Chad A. Readler (Sixth Circuit), and Allison Jones Rushing (Fourth Circuit). The judicial nominees had previously had hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee but were held up by Democrats' delays and obstructions, so they had to be re-nominated by President Trump in this Congress.
The hearing began with Chairman Lindsey Graham announcing his blue slip policy. He will continue the policy of Chairman Grassley and 17 of 19 Senate Judiciary Chairmen and not allow one or two "home state" senators to have a veto on a circuit court nominee as long as there has been consultation with them by the White House.
Worth noting that these 17 Senate Judiciary chairmen who did not allow blue slip to be a veto included Chairmen Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy.— RNLA (@TheRepLawyer) February 7, 2019
Sen. Lee: Blue slip is not codified in any rule, though relied on by members of Senate Judiciary. Gradual evolution of rule. Only minority of chairmen have recognized it as veto. Chairman Graham's intent is to keep it intact as it has been & to follow Grassley on circuit nominees— RNLA (@TheRepLawyer) February 7, 2019
The Democrats spent the rest of the meeting 1) awkwardly trying to explain why they and those in their party supported and praised Bill Barr in the past but would not now, 2) defending their intrusive questions into and criticisms of nominees' religious beliefs, and 3) criticizing the 44 nominees for not being "conservative" according to their own definitions, being Federalist Society members, and defending their clients in court.
Sen. Leahy now trying to explain at length why he supported and praised Bill Barr in 1991 but doesn't now. Answer: President Trump.— RNLA (@TheRepLawyer) February 7, 2019
Senate Judiciary Dems playing an awkward game of praising Bill Barr's character and competence while saying why they're voting against him, which boils down to Pres. Trump, with some background of unitary executive theory.— RNLA (@TheRepLawyer) February 7, 2019
Sen. Lee: Can't subject Neomi Rao and others to questions about their religious beliefs and not expect them and others of their religious beliefs to ridiculed and scorned. There are many specific beliefs that require a more nuanced answer than the yes or no that Dems demand.— RNLA (@TheRepLawyer) February 7, 2019
Sen. Lee: Wildly inappropriate and expect and implore colleagues to refrain from questions on religious beliefs in the future. As member of religious minority, should never expose someone to shame, ridicule, or scorn for their religious beliefs.— RNLA (@TheRepLawyer) February 7, 2019
Sen. Lee says yes, questions about whether nominee will set aside personal views when interpreting the law are completely appropriate. But questions about religious belief detached from ability to decide based on the law and not personal beliefs are not appropriate.— RNLA (@TheRepLawyer) February 7, 2019
Sen. Whitehouse goes back to his assertion from Rao hearing that judges nominated by Pres. Trump are not conservative (based on his fundamental misunderstanding/mischaracterization of various conservative judicial philosophies) and are really just in service of special interests.— RNLA (@TheRepLawyer) February 7, 2019
Sen. Whitehouse again calls the Supreme Court justices "Republican" and "Democrat". Not appointed by, but straight-up partisan actors. Senate Republicans regularly decry the politicization of the judiciary while Whitehouse advances it.— RNLA (@TheRepLawyer) February 7, 2019
Senate Dems trying very hard to defend their inquiries into nominees' personal religious beliefs without saying outright that their underlying standard is that conservative or strongly held religious beliefs ("ideological views") are disqualifying.— RNLA (@TheRepLawyer) February 7, 2019
Regarding Bill Barr's nomination to be Attorney General, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said today on the Senate floor:
In William Barr, President Trump has nominated a tried-and-true public servant and a proven professional to lead the men and women of the Department of Justice.
Testifying before the Committee last month, Mr. Barr expressed his unwavering commitment to "the rule of law, the Constitution, and the American people." But my colleagues don’t have to take his word for it. Having served as Attorney General once before, Mr. Barr’s qualifications and job performance speak for themselves.
On both sides of the aisle, Senators were vocal in their praise for the "independent voice" of "an honorable guy," William Barr. . . . And before us is a nominee who remains eminently well-qualified to discharge these duties. The Senate needs to act quickly to put William Barr back to work at the Justice Department. I hope and expect he will be confirmed next week.
Thank you to Chairman Graham and the Senate Judiciary Republicans, these nominations are moving forward and thanks to Leader McConnell, they will soon be taken up on the Senate floor. Follow the RNLA on Twitter for updates on these nominations. Tomorrow is the last day to sign RNLA's letter to the Senate in support of Bill Barr's confirmation.