In her April 20 Opinion column, “Senate Democrats need to play hardball,” Jennifer Rubin argued that my “appeals to shameless Republicans have accomplished nothing” when it comes to confirming federal judges.
The facts speak otherwise.
During the 117th Congress (2021 to 2022), the Senate Judiciary Committee accomplished a record-breaking rate of judicial confirmations during the longest evenly divided Senate and committee in history. In total, we advanced 126 judicial nominees from committee, and the Senate confirmed 97. Importantly, these were historically diverse nominees, in both their professional and demographic backgrounds, including Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman and first former public defender to be confirmed to the Supreme Court.
Since January, the Senate has confirmed an additional 22 federal judges — 19 with bipartisan support — bringing the total under the Biden administration to 119. There are 26 more nominees out of committee and ready for floor votes.
It also is important to note that the blue-slip process — which allows a senator to place a hold on a judge nominated in his or her state — allowed Democrats to play a role in the selection of nearly half of the district court judges confirmed during the Trump administration. Now, some Senate Republicans have also displayed a willingness to work with the Biden White House on judicial nominations. Already this year, the committee has held hearings for nominees to the Southern District of Indiana, the District of Idaho and the Eastern District of Louisiana, all of whom have support from their Republican home-state senators. More are to come.
The effort to bring balance to the courts has been one of this Senate’s great successes.
Richard J. Durbin, Washington
The writer, a Democrat, represents Illinois in the U.S. Senate, where he is chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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May 1, 2023 at 05:35PM