Senate

McConnell plans to fill two key circuit court seats even if Trump loses

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he will fill two key circuit court vacancies after the elections, even if President Trump loses and there's a Democratic takeover of government.

The leader's assertion makes clear that judicial confirmations will be a high priority, regardless of the election results.

"We're going to run through the tape. We go through the end of the year, and so does the president. We're going to fill the 7th Circuit, and I'm hoping we have time to fill the 1st Circuit as well," McConnell told conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt.

"And we are, by the way, confirming a district judge as soon as we get back after the election, and we're going to clean the plate, clean all the district judges off as well," McConnell said.

The appellate court vacancies were created by Judge Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation to the Supreme Court earlier this week and the recent death of 1st Circuit Court Judge Juan Torruella, the first and only Puerto Rican to serve on the 1st Circuit. 

There are currently 55 U.S. district court vacancies and 33 nominees pending.

McConnell told Hewitt that he didn't have any second thoughts about speeding Barrett's confirmation to the Supreme Court before the elections after liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September. 

"If the shoe had been on the other foot, I'm pretty confident that they would have acted in the same way. What we did was entirely consistent with history and tradition. I'm proud of what we did," he said.

McConnell on Monday set up the Senate to consider James Knepp II's nomination to serve on the Northern District of Ohio when lawmakers return to the Capitol on Nov. 9. 

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