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McConnell, Senate confirm Trump's 200th judicial nominee

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed President TrumpDonald TrumpSunday shows preview: House GOP removes Cheney from leadership position; CDC issues new guidance for fully vaccinated Americans Navajo Nation president on Arizona's new voting restrictions: An 'assault' on our rights The Memo: Lawmakers on edge after Greene's spat with Ocasio-Cortez MORE’s 200th judicial nominee.

The milestone marks the latest victory for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWashington showing signs of normalcy after year of restrictions Former OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden Lawmakers reach agreement on bipartisan Jan. 6 commission MORE (R-Ky.), who views the federal judiciary as a top priority.

The Senate voted 52-48 on Cory Wilson’s nomination to be a 5th Circuit judge. Like many of Trump’s appeals court judges, Wilson was confirmed largely along party lines with Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsRomney: Capitol riot was 'an insurrection against the Constitution' Former OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Masks off: CDC greenlights return to normal for vaccinated Americans MORE (Maine) the only Republican senator to vote against the nomination. 

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Republicans took a victory lap ahead of the vote.

McConnell, speaking from the Senate floor, noted that in addition to being Trump’s 200th judicial nominee, Wilson’s confirmation means there will be no vacancies on the country’s influential appeals courts.

“As I’ve said many times, our work with the administration to renew our federal courts is not a partisan or political victory. It is a victory for the rule of law and for the Constitution itself,” McConnell said.

“If judges applying the law and the Constitution as they’re written strikes any of our colleagues as a threat to their political agenda, then the problem, I would argue, is with their agenda,” he added. 

Sen. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyOn The Money: Biden says workers can't turn down job and get benefits | Treasury launches state and local aid | Businesses jump into vax push Grassley criticizes Biden's proposal to provide IRS with B The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Infrastructure, Cheney ouster on deck as Congress returns MORE (R-Iowa), the former chairman and current member of the Judiciary Committee, added that he expected Trump’s nominees to be in the mold of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

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“This landmark achievement is the result of the president keeping his word and the unwavering determination of Leader McConnell, Chairman Graham and our conference,” he said, referring to Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood causes headache for GOP in key S.C. race GOP governors move to cut unemployment benefits as debate rages over effects Trump critics push new direction for GOP MORE (R-S.C.).

“In the hands of these many new judges, the future of American jurisprudence is bright,” he added.

Republicans have set a record pace at confirming Trump’s appeals court nominees, including breaking a record for the number of picks confirmed during an administration's first and second year in office.

McConnell views the judiciary, and in particular the circuit courts, as the party’s best shot at having a long-term influence on the direction of the country. 

Judicial nominees have increasingly become a lightning rod in recent years. The then-Democratic controlled Senate went “nuclear” to get rid of the 60-vote hurdle for most judicial nominees and all executive nominees. 

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Republicans then nixed the same roadblock in 2017 for Supreme Court nominees. They went “nuclear” a second time in 2019 to cut down on the amount of time it takes to confirm district court judges and most executive nominees. 

Democrats have railed against the GOP tactics on judicial nominations, whom they view as out of the mainstream. In some instances they’ve refused to return a blue slip on the nominations, which indicates if a home-state senator supports it, but Republicans have moved forward with circuit picks even if home-state senators object.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Republicans welcome the chance to work with Democrats on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney sideshow distracts from important battle over Democrats' partisan voting bill MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinInfrastructure deal imperiled by differences on financing If you want Julie Su at the DOL, don't point to her resume Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, and Amy KlobucharAmy Klobuchar Klobuchar offers tribute to her father, who died Wednesday The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting Senate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill MORE (D-Minn.), a member of the panel, called on McConnell to pull the vote on Wilson's nomination. 

"Judge Wilson has been an ardent supporter of restrictive voting measures, including voter ID laws, that disproportionately harm minority voters, and he has shown a pattern of dismissing legitimate concerns from voting rights groups," they wrote earlier this week.

"Appointing someone to the Fifth Circuit who refers to the concerns of African American citizens and community advocates regarding the effects of voter ID laws as 'poppycock' is a slap in the face to Black Americans at a time when our country is working to take steps forward on racial justice, not backwards," they added. 

Democrats were referring to remarks that Wilson made in 2011 where he argued that concerns a voter ID law would suppress the vote were "poppycock, unless you count the dead vote," according to The Washington Post.

Democrats have accused Republicans of trying to stack the courts with their ideological allies. Demand Justice is calling on former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenWarren calls for US to support ceasefire between Israel and Hamas UN secretary general 'deeply disturbed' by Israeli strike on high rise that housed media outlets Nation's largest nurses union condemns new CDC guidance on masks MORE and congressional Democrats, if they win the White House and Senate, to expand the number of circuit and district court seats. 

“President Obama picked the most diverse judicial nominees in history, but Mitch McConnell blocked them with the fewest confirmations in generations, so he could leave more than 100 vacancies for Donald Trump to fill. Trump has done so overwhelmingly with young, white men who have done enormous damage to our courts’ diversity and legitimacy," said Christopher Kang, the chief counsel for Demand Justice.