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Senate confirms eight Trump court picks in three days

The Senate confirmed eight of President Trump‘s court picks this week, underscoring the rapid pace the GOP-controlled chamber has set on judicial nominations. 

 
The confirmations came in back-to-back days with one district court nominee confirmed on Tuesday, five on Wednesday and two on Thursday. 
 
The votes bring the total number of judicial confirmations for Trump to 170 nominations since taking office in January 2017. 
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) praised the picks on Thursday as the latest example of “impressive nominees” from Trump. 
 
McConnell also defended his decision to dedicate weeks of floor time to judicial nominations, arguing that district court picks previously were able to clear the Senate without having to overcome time-consuming procedural hurdles. 
 
“If our Democratic colleagues want to spend less time voting on district judges, they should take it up with the Democratic leader who is forcing us to take cloture vote after cloture vote,” McConnell said. 
 
Republicans changed the rules earlier this year to cut down on the amount of debate time district court nominees face. Under the change, once they overcome an initial procedural hurdle they can be confirmed after two additional hours of debate; before the rules change they faced an additional 30 hours of debate. 
 
McConnell views judicial nominations as a top priority, and the party’s best shot at having a long-term influence on the direction of the country. Republicans have made it a priority to nominate young, conservative judicial picks who could theoretically hold their lifetime appointments for decades. 
 
Democrats and progressive outside groups have fumed for months arguing that Trump is nominating, and Senate Republicans are confirming, ideologically partisan, unqualified nominees. 
 

“They are putting right-wing judges on the bench. These judges are far away from where the average American is, even far away from the average Republican,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said during a weekly press conference.

 
Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.) added that he was “particularly concerned about rising issues around qualification and competence” on Trump’s picks. 
 
“I am deeply concerned about the quality of some of these nominations,” Coons added during a Senate floor speech. “The American Bar Association … has ranked nine of Trump’s nominees as ‘not qualified,’ an exceptionally unusual and striking step for them to take.” 
 
Sarah Pitlyk, who was confirmed this week to be a judge for the Eastern District of Missouri, was rated as “not qualified” by the American Bar Association. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) was the only GOP senator to oppose her nomination, while GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Johnny Isakson (Ga.) and Mike Rounds (S.D.) missed the vote. 
 

Schumer, asked about her nomination during a weekly press conference, said, “there are many bad nominations, but it’s hard to think of one that’s as bad as hers.”

 

In addition to Pitlyk, the Senate confirmed Sherri Lydon, Richard Ernest Myers, David Barlow, Austin Huffaker, Douglas Russell Cole, John Sinatra and Eric Ross Komitee to be district judges.

McConnell has already teed up two circuit nominations for next week: Patrick Bumatay and Lawrence VanDyke to serve on the Ninth Circuit.

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