CourtsEthics and Democracy

Senators Can Stall Trump’s Terrible Judicial Nominees. Here’s How.


We can chalk up another loss to the Trump agenda — after public outcry, Trump withdrew two of his especially egregious judicial nominees from consideration. Brett Talley and Jeff Mateer were highly unqualified ideologues who had no business serving lifetime federal appointments on the courts.

Unfortunately, several more of Trump’s extreme nominees have moved forward. This has big ramifications. From civil rights to the environment and beyond, federal judges wield tremendous power to decide issues that affect us all.

Many of Trump’s nominees are unqualified and unfit to be judges. Some have records of extremist views and others are comically ill-equipped to be a judge.

The unfortunate truth is that we don’t have the power to block every single nominee. But there is a lot that senators can do to delay and stop these egregious nominations from moving forward. Here’s what you need to know.

Senators Can Use Procedural Tactics To Delay and Block Bad Judges

For nominees who are still pending, there are ways for senators to pump the brakes.

Judiciary Committee members are especially equipped to resist the bad nominations:

  • Judiciary Committee members must show up to every nomination hearing, ask detailed and thorough questions to expose each nominee’s extremism or lack of qualifications, demand key documents, and insist that they receive answers to each question.
  • Members of the Judiciary Committee can also utilize a number of procedural tools in their toolbox when the committee meets for markups, to ensure ghzg there is sufficient time to debate and consider the nominees, and to prevent a rushed vote.
  • Judiciary Committee members also can and should make strong statements expressing their concerns about the bad nominees each time there is opportunity within the committee’s proceedings.

Even if a senator is not on the Judiciary Committee, there are still things they can do to oppose the nominees:

  • All senators can and should speak out against nominees that are extreme and dangerous. They should use the power of their platform to draw attention to the most egregious nominees and urge their colleagues to oppose them.
  • All senators also have the power of the “blue slip” when a judicial nominee is appointed in their state - this is a 100-year-old tradition that historically has given them a veto power if they are concerned about that nominee. Read here for more information about the blue slip and how the GOP is trying to chip away at this power. Senators should refuse to return blue slips for unqualified and extremist judges nominated to their home state.
  • And, of course, all senators should vote against the dangerous nominees.

Track Trump’s nominees here. Indivisible East Bay is closely following this fight and is updating this tracker live with updates. Take a look at their resources for more information here. Reach out to them for more information at judiciary+team@indivisibleeb.org.

Ask your senators to do everything in their power to block Trump’s dangerous judicial nominees.

SAMPLE CALL SCRIPT

Caller: Hi, my name is [name] and I’m a constituent calling from [part of state]. I’m calling about Trump’s terrible judicial nominees. I’m alarmed by the quantity of unqualified and ideologically extreme nominees that the Trump administration has put forward. I want to ask Senator [name] to do everything in [his/her] power to block these nominees. We need more time for senators to fully vet these nominees and to stop them from going forward if they are not qualified.

Staffer: Thank you for calling and sharing your concerns. The Senator will weigh all the options and carefully consider each nominee as they come forward.

Caller: Great. I’d like to specifically get the Senator’s promise that [he/she] will do everything possible to delay or stop nominations of extreme and unqualified judges.

Staffer: I’ll convey that to the Senator.

Caller: Thank you, I’ll be closely watching [his/her] actions on this. It’s imperative to take more time to vet these nominees and not let them get rammed through the confirmation process.