McConnell, Senate confirm Trump's 200th judicial nominee

The Senate on Wednesday confirmed President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband's coronavirus death in obit: 'May Karma find you all' Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE’s 200th judicial nominee.

The milestone marks the latest victory for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellProfessional sports players associations come out against coronavirus liability protections Democratic leaders report 'some progress' in talks with White House Top GOP senator urges agencies to protect renters, banks amid coronavirus aid negotiations 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 CollinsObama announces first wave of 2020 endorsements Senate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  On The Trail: The first signs of a post-Trump GOP 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 GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenate GOP divided over whether they'd fill Supreme Court vacancy  Republicans dismiss Trump proposal to delay election Timeline for GOP's Obama probe report slips as chairman eyes subpoenas 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 GrahamObama announces first wave of 2020 endorsements Trump putting TikTok ban on hold for 45 days: report This week: Negotiators hunt for coronavirus deal as August break looms 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 SchumerMeadows: 'I'm not optimistic there will be a solution in the very near term' on coronavirus package Biden calls on Trump, Congress to enact an emergency housing program Senators press Postal Service over complaints of slow delivery MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDemocrats want Biden to debate Trump despite risks Mini-exodus of Trump officials from Commerce to lobby on semiconductors Doug Collins questions Loeffler's trustworthiness in first TV ad MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, and Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharHouse committee requests hearing with postmaster general amid mail-in voting concerns Biden should pick the best person for the job — not the best woman Senators press Postal Service over complaints of slow delivery 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 BidenTrump campaign emails supporters encouraging mask-wearing: 'We have nothing to lose' Cuba spells trouble for Bass's VP hopes Democrats want Biden to debate Trump despite risks 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.