McConnell urging GOP-appointed judges to retire this year: report

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' House to vote on resolution affirming peaceful transition of power Republican lawyers brush off Trump's election comments MORE (R-Ky.) and his colleagues have been encouraging some federal judges appointed by Republican presidents to retire this year in order to ensure that their seats will be filled by ideological allies, The New York Times is reporting.

According to the Times, which cited multiple people familiar with McConnell's efforts, the Senate leader has been talking with senior judges to gauge their plans for the future and telling them that the best time to retire is while the GOP is in control of the White House and Senate.

The move shows that the GOP is preparing for the possibility that it lose control of either the upper chamber or the presidency or both in the November elections, which would bring to a halt the massive success the party has had in pushing the federal judiciary to the right with rapid confirmations of ideologically conservative judicial nominees.

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That includes 51 appointees to the nation's appeals courts, which sit just a rung below the Supreme Court and have final say on the vast majority of legal battles.

Earlier this month, Judge Thomas B. Griffith, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, announced plans to retire in September, just days after he authored an opinion that ruled House Democrats have no right to sue to enforce a subpoena against former White House counsel Don McGahn.

Griffith's retirement will give Trump a vacancy on what is widely considered to be the second most important court in the country.

The Times could not determine which judges McConnell had reached out to or how many had been contacted by the Kentucky Republicans and his allies.