This may seem like an abstruse parliamentary maneuver -- and it is -- but Mitch McConnell just escalated the judicial wars in a minor but meaningful way. If frustrated conservatives want the GOP Senate majority to "start acting like one," McConnell's decision eliminates a lever Democrats have been using to stymie some of President Trump's judicial picks. In that sense, he's very much acting like a majority leader; a Democratic one. Try not to let your eyes glaze over as you read the details of this move, which involves dramatically reducing the power of so-called "blue slips" on judges, with which Senators from the home state of a presidential selection have been able to withhold their consent in order to prevent that nomination from moving forward. Not anymore. McConnell warned Democrats that he was leaning this direction last month, hoping they'd abandon this form of partisan blockade. They didn't. So he's followed through on his threat -- via the Weekly Standard:
Say what you will about McConnell, he's been stone cold on this surpassingly important issue. Let's address each bullet point, starting with the last one: First, even if this "unified" Republican government is paralyzed by disagreement, disunity, and inaction -- from healthcare to tax reform -- one lasting legacy that they flatly cannot and must not fail to cement is filling the federal courts with constitutionalists. Democrats exploded the minority's ability to thwart judicial appointments via the filibuster in 2013 after pioneering the practice as a partisan weapon during the Bush administration. Republicans finally fought back and answered in-kind during the Gorsuch nomination. Democrats will retaliate the next chance they get, so the GOP must take advantage of the Obama/Reid precedent as aggressively as possible while they control the presidency and US Senate. There is no excuse not to populate those 166 vacancies with young, capable, smart conservatives. Thus far, President Trump's judicial nominees have been absolutely stellar. A lot more, as soon as possible, please.
Second, maintaining the "30 hours rule" is a reasonable accommodation, even as some critics would prefer to see the debate limit sliced by nearly three-quarters (down to eight hours) to expedite the process. McConnell's plan for keeping the trains running on time will likely force Democrats to employ their slow-walking tactics at extremely inconvenient times, including overnight hours. Third, the "blue slip" change is the most significant shift McConnell has engineered here. It's the one Democrats are howling over, even though I strongly believe that Republicans are correct that Democrats would do the exact same thing if the roles were reversed. Their history of unprecedented aggression in these battles is well established. Ed Morrissey also points out that this gambit isn't exactly wiping away centuries of sacrosanct tradition:
Fourth, prioritizing the confirmation of judges over lesser executive officials is a no-brainer. Judges serve for life, and will help shape American jurisprudence for decades; Deputy Secretaries of the Interior may be important, but McConnell has his eye on the ball here. Now it's time for the White House, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, and McConnell to kick the confirmation conga line into overdrive. Nominees who are potentially unfit or unqualified should not be rubber-stamped, but nominees whose opposition is rooted in ideological objections from the Left should sail through. There's a lot of work to be done.
Source: Town Hall