Left knocks Schumer over deal on judges ahead of Supreme Court battle 

Anna Moneymaker

Liberal advocacy groups are criticizing Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) for cutting a deal on judges with Republicans days before confirmation hearings are set to kick off for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Schumer agreed with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to speed up votes on 15 of President Trump’s judicial nominees, which will give vulnerable Senate Democrats more time to campaign at home this week.

A senior Democratic aide pointed out that most of the judges have received Democratic support and were going to get confirmed anyway since the minority party does not have the power to filibuster nominees in the Senate.

{mosads}But the deal is coming under intense criticism from activists on the left, who fear it could portend Democrats going easy on Kavanaugh, Trump’s second Supreme Court pick who could shift the ideology of court to the right for decades.

The left’s entire #WhipTheVote coalition, which opposes Kavanaugh, came out against the deal.

“A week before hearings begin, dozens of Senate Democrats have yet to publicly oppose Kavanaugh. Not only has Schumer lagged in unifying his caucus in opposition, he’s cutting deals with Mitch McConnell to fast-track Trump’s judicial appointees, helping Trump shape a right-wing judiciary for a generation,” said executive director Anna Galland.

“We don’t need Democrats cutting deals to help Trump and the Republican agenda. We need them—and Schumer—fighting with the rest of us to protect our rights, our democracy and our lives,” she added.

Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice, a group leading opposition to Kavanaugh’s nomination, said an extra few days on the campaign trail isn’t worth the impact on the federal judiciary.

“Trading this many lifetime positions away for a couple days back home in the dead of August is a metaphor for how myopic the Democrats’ approach has been at this dark moment in history,” he said in a statement.

“An entire branch of government is being lost for generations and Senate Democrats are willfully blind to it. In the coming months and years, these same Democrats will issue outraged statements about the rulings issued by the very judges that they could not be bothered to try to slow down. It is pathetic,” he added.

McConnell and Schumer on Tuesday agreed to expedite consideration of 20 Trump nominees — 15 judicial nominees and five executive branch appointments.

Seven of the judicial picks and five of the executive branch nominees received Senate confirmation on Tuesday. They rest are locked in to receive confirmation votes after Labor Day.

The deal angered liberals all the more as it came at a time when activists are gearing up to oppose Kavanaugh ahead of his confirmation hearings, which start Tuesday.

Indivisible Project, a liberal advocacy group dedicated to defeating Trump’s agenda, also criticized the deal, arguing Democrats “got absolutely nothing out of it.”

A senior Democratic aide said the deal spares Democrats from having to spend days in Washington running down the procedural clock when Republicans are very likely to have the votes they need to confirm all the nominees.

“[The] question was were they going to get confirmed while Dems were in DC or while Dems were back in their home states trying to take back the majority before folks come back for McCain services.”

Lawmakers are expected to return to Washington later this week to pay tribute to the Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who will be lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda on Friday.

Funeral services for McCain are scheduled for Saturday at Washington National Cathedral, where former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama will deliver eulogies.

Centrist Democrats running for reelection in states that Trump won by large margins in 2016 said there was little point in dragging out another week in Washington to vote on a batch of judges considered largely noncontroversial.

“These judges came out of the Judiciary Committee with Democrats and Republicans both signing off and endorsing them,” Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) told The Hill last week.

He said it was better to save time and move the package of nominees instead of spending another week in Washington so both parties could “yell at each other.”

The Senate usually takes a monthlong recess in August, but McConnell cancelled it this year so the chamber could vote on nominees and the Defense-Labor, Health and Human Services spending bill. 

Tags Barack Obama Charles Schumer Donald Trump Joe Manchin John McCain Mitch McConnell

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