December 14, 2023

Maximize the Week

Russ Feingold President

The Senate heard us! Rather than breaking for the holiday this week, which the House did, the Senate is coming back next week. We have one message for the Senate majority: maximize the week for judicial confirmations.

Said another way: use this time to start to dig yourselves out of the hole you put yourselves in.

As of December 15, the Senate has confirmed 164 Article III confirmations during the Biden-Harris administration, putting President Biden 23 judges short of the 187 judges that his predecessor had appointed at the end of three years. This 23-judge deficit is a creation of the Senate's own making when it opted not to confirm a single judge in January, April, or August of this year, and confirmed only three in September and five in October.

The Senate cannot overcome a 23-judge deficit in one week. But, it has proven it can confirm as many as 12 judges in a week. Right now, there are 16 judges pending on the Senate floor. Matching its record of 12 confirmations would go a long ways in clearing the decks, closing the gap between Biden and Trump, and setting the Senate up for a slightly easier 2024.

This is not rocket science. If the Senate is serious about balancing the courts, as Senators Schumer and Durbin have insisted they are, their goal must be to confirm a minimum of 234 judges by the end of President Biden's first term. Right now, Biden is 70 confirmations shy of 234. To confirm 70 judges in 2024 would require the Senate to confirm more judges than it has during any one year of the Biden administration thus far. A tall task in the best of times, and a year with a most consequential election cycle for our country is not the best of times when it comes to the Senate.

All of that should make the plan for next week simple: judges, judges, and more judges. There are funding measures on the Senate's agenda as well, but Senators can multitask, and they need to prove that now.