The Senate confirms Trump’s conservative pick for Sixth Circuit Appeals court. This is the first Senate confirmation of a federal lower court judge since November 16, 2015 — a total of 556 days. After years of obstructing GOP judicial nominations, Democrat Harry Reid nuked the filibuster in 2013 and confirmed many Obama nominees. After the GOP won the Senate in 2014, they countered by refusing to confirm anymore Obama judicial nominations.
President Donald Trump is on his way to leaving a conservative imprint on the federal judiciary with the confirmation of Amul Thapar, his first judge to the lower courts, and a renewed willingness from Republicans to sidestep a century-old custom involving judicial nominees.
The Senate voted 52-44 on Thursday to install Thapar, a favorite of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), at the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The confirmation marked the first judicial nominee aside from now-Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court for Trump, who came into office with an usually higher number of judicial vacancies.
“He has a reputation as a qualified judge with an impressive legal mind,” McConnell said of Thapar. “He will fairly apply the law to all who enter his courtroom because, in Judge Thapar’s own words, ‘the most important attribute of a judge is to be open-minded and not to prejudge a case without reading the briefs, researching the law, and hearing from the parties.’”
In addition to Thapar, Trump has nominated 10 prospective judges to the lower courts. Two in particular could trigger a partisan battle over the so-called blue slip rule — a long-standing custom of the Senate Judiciary Committee that says the panel will not advance a judicial nominee without the consent of both the candidates’ home-state senators.