President Donald Trump’s judicial nominations have been perhaps his main point of praise among right-leaning individuals, but that could change if he proceeds with a reported deal with Democratic senators to abandon at least two of his nominations for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board reported that the White House counsel was prepared to let go of two 9th Circuit nominations in order to appease Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), both of whom serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee and could further scuttle an already tumultuous process for confirming Trump’s nominees.
In response to the news, some prominent individuals on the right criticized the deal and urged the president not to cave on this particular issue.
Sens Harris and Feinstein wrote the book on dirty politics during the Kavanaugh process & are bullying Trump’s other noms. They refused to negotiate in good faith on picking 9th circuit noms before. Why let them undermine Trump’s greatest legacy?
— Carrie Severino (@JCNSeverino) January 30, 2019
No deals with Senate liberals!
A Bad Judges Deal The White House may make concessions to Feinstein and Harris. https://t.co/hxeXAo1ueY
— J. Kenneth Blackwell (@kenblackwell) January 30, 2019
“They refuse to negotiate in good faith on picking 9th circuit nom[inations] before,” Judicial Crisis Network Chief Counsel Carrie Severino tweeted in reference to Harris and Feinstein. “Why let them undermine Trump’s greatest legacy?”
The Resurgent editor Erick Erickson urged Trump not to let his own counsel make the deal.
“Mr. President, you probably do not even know the White House Counsel is doing this,” he said, as it wasn’t initially clear whether Trump was aware of the deal. “You must intervene and stop this.”
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) January 30, 2019
The purported deal would allow Democrats to choose their own candidate for one of the three available 9th Circuit judgeships. Trump would choose another, and Democrats would choose the final one from the president’s list of preferred nominees.
As IJR has noted, the 9th Circuit appeared to be at the forefront of blocking some of the administration’s policies. And while the reported deal only covered three vacancies, Severino worried that it would set a poor precedent for future negotiations.
“If they are allowed to do this here, then I think it would just embolden other senators to try to just use this as a political logrolling tactic rather than really engage in a fair discussion of how can we work with the administration,” she told IJR.
Severino also doubted that Democrats would loosen their grip on the confirmation process after this deal. She said it was “ludicrous” to expect a 2020 candidate like Harris to dampen her criticism in the event that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg retired.
Trump’s nominees have already faced intense pushback from Democrats. According to The Washington Times, there are 163 court vacancies, 38 more than when Trump took office in 2017.
“President Trump has a truly historic opportunity to appoint some very good judges to the circuit who are going to be committed to the Constitution, committed to the rule of law,” Severino, who was integral in pushing Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, argued.
Democrats’ opposition was particularly evident during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, during which both Feinstein and Harris questioned the judge.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation was yet another sign showing that Democrats appeared to be losing ground in the judiciary and could see conservatives alter jurisprudence in a way that would set back causes like increased abortion access.