Trump Makes Progress Packing Courts With Conservative Picks

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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A Senate panel cleared several of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees Thursday, just hours before the White House announced its fifth slate of judicial candidates.

The day was a productive one for an administration facing an unprecedented number of vacancies on federal courts.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance the confirmation of several Trump nominees to federal appeals courts Thursday morning. John Bush, a Louisville lawyer in private practice, and Damien Schiff, a public interest litigator, were each approved by the committee on a party-line vote. Bush was nominated for a seat on the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, while Schiff was tapped for a 15-year term on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

Kevin Newsom’s nomination to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals advanced to the full Senate 18-2.

Schiff and Bush in particular faced a bruising confirmation hearing, as lawmakers grilled the pair on inflammatory posts written on various law blogs. Schiff referred to Justice Anthony Kennedy as a “judicial prostitute” in a 2007 post on the Omnia Omnibus blog, while Bush called Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz a “sore loser” for declining to endorse the president during the Republican National Convention in 2016.

Cruz is a member of the judiciary committee.

Their nominations will now proceed to the full Senate for a final confirmation vote.

Conservative legal commentators have enthusiastically praised Newsom, Bush, and Schiff as solid picks with excellent jurisprudential bona fides.

“Thank you to President Trump for keeping your campaign promise and continuing to pick excellent nominees, including those who were voted on today,” said Carrie Severino chief counsel of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network.

The White House submitted another round of nominees Thursday afternoon. All 11 candidates were named to judicial vacancies in district courts across the south.

Several of the nominees were named to courts facing “judicial emergencies,” including the Middle District of Tennessee, and the Northern District of Georgia. Judicial emergencies exist when filings per judge or panel exceed a certain threshold.

There are currently 137 vacancies in the federal courts.

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