Democrats boycotted Wednesday’s hearing on another slate of President Trump’s judicial nominees, continuing their attempts to hinder Republicans’ plans to stock the courts with an army of conservative judges.
The Judiciary Committee heard from four nominees, including two picks for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, one of the most liberal panels in the country and long a target for Republicans who complain of activist liberal judges.
Wednesday’s boycott is the second in a row after Democrats refused to show for a hearing last week on other court picks.
Democrats say it is unprecedented to hold hearings on judges while senators are home preparing for the November election.
“Republicans are breaking every norm to stack the courts with young, ideological nominees who will undermine the rights and protections of all Americans for generations to come,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s ranking Democrat, in a press release.
But Republicans said Ms. Feinstein struck a deal with GOP Chairman Chuck Grassley in August to hold the hearings in late October, knowing the Senate could be out of session at the time.
Sen. Mike Crapo, Idaho Republican, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican, were the only two senators out of the 21 on the committee to attend Wednesday’s hearing.
Mr. Hatch promised the nominees they’ll try to pus them through Democratic hurdles.
“We’re going to do everything we can to get you through by the end of the year,” Mr. Hatch told the two circuit court nominees.
The picks must first be voted on in committee and then would join a backlog of dozens of judicial nominees already waiting for votes on the Senate floor.
“I hope we can get all the ones that have come through committee — we’ll do our best,” Mr. Hatch said. “I’m going to do everything I can to get it done.”
On the docket were Bridget S. Bade and Eric D. Miller both for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as Karin J. Immergut for the District of Oregon and Richard A. Hertling for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.
Kristine Lucius, vice president of policy at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, criticized the GOP for moving ahead with the hearings.
“Chairman Grassley continues his assault on Senate norms by dismissing the advice and consent process, scheduling hearings during recess and before nominees’ American Bar Association ratings are completed, and packing hearings with two circuit court nominees,” said Ms. Lucius.
Senate Republicans have made approving Mr. Trump’s judicial picks a chief focus of their agenda. They’ve already set a record by confirming 29 circuit court judges, and also cleared two Supreme Court justices and 53 district court picks.