WASHINGTON — Republicans held a White House celebration Wednesday to mark a big milestone in their reshaping of the federal judiciary.
President Donald Trump has appointed about one in four active U.S. Court of Appeals judges. And he’s put two judges on the U.S. Supreme Court.
“From the beginning of my campaign, I promised to appoint judges who will adhere to the true and original meaning of our Constitution,” Trump said during Wednesday’s East Room event.
Republicans bragged about the moves they have made over the past few years to increase their representation at all levels of the federal court system.
Those moves have included refusing to consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court after Antonin Scalia died.
They also talked about standing behind Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court after Christine Blasey Ford accused him of attacking her at a party when they were teenagers — accusations Kavanaugh denied.
Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Ben Sasse of Nebraska are both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is responsible for vetting judicial nominees, and both attended Wednesday’s event in the East Room.
In a press release, Sasse cited a simple reason for the invitation.
“On the Judiciary Committee we chew bubblegum and confirm great judges — and we’re all out of bubblegum,” Sasse said.
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The panel has confirmed more than 150 federal judges nominated by Trump.
During his 2016 campaign, Trump’s commitment to select certain judicial nominees helped shore up support from skeptical conservatives, both in the primary and the general election.
Grassley noted that many Trump voters told pollsters their support was based on his vow to appoint conservative judges. Grassley said Trump should be praised for standing by that promise.
“These jurists will have a positive impact on the country for years to come,” Grassley told reporters.
Democrats responded to the GOP victory lap in part by noting that Trump has sent the Senate nine nominees rated unqualified by the American Bar Association.
“Before they start bragging about their nominees, you ought to take a close look at the people they’re putting on the bench,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Republicans have often discounted those poor ABA ratings by suggesting that the organization’s evaluation process can be skewed by liberal bias.
Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, another member of the Judiciary Committee, said Republicans have packed the courts with extreme conservative ideologues, people she said are unable to judge fairly and impartially.
“That’s the very reason that these people are being nominated and confirmed — because they have an ideological bent,” Hirono said.
The effect of those lifetime appointments will be felt well into the future. Trump said the individuals he’s put on the appellate courts have been 10 years younger on average than Obama’s appointments.
And Republicans vowed that they aren’t done yet.
“Today’s celebration was great, but we’re not slowing down,” Sasse said. “We’ve got more great nominees who need votes.”
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