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Sen. Dick Durbin preps for judicial nominee push

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Durbin readies more judicial appointments before the new Senate takes over, by Greg Hinz

Dick Durbin
Photo: Bloomberg

 

Everyone in Washington is racing to Election Day, but Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill, is at the center of another deadline dash.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is in the process of hitting the overdrive button, hoping to confirm as many of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominations as possible before the new Senate takes office early in 2023.

Though Durbin has been cranking out committee hearings and approvals at a near-modern-day record, Biden is submitting more all the time, sometimes in big batches. That’s led to some griping from liberal groups that the confirmation process ought to move faster. But Durbin’s not wearing the jacket.

“I would like to sit down with groups that are saying that and show them the numbers,” Durbin said.

“The numbers,” as of the weekend, are 83 so-called Article III judges nominated by Biden and confirmed by the Senate: one on the Supreme Court, 24 on circuit courts of appeals and 58 on the district court bench.

RELATED: Durbin backs minor league baseball players union effort

Influential circuit court nominees have been the priority lately, but there are a lot of others in the process. Biden’s panel held hearings on six nominations last week and has another six expected to advance this week.

Getting them through a Senate that’s split 50/50 has been a pill, with 20 nominations still awaiting floor action. But Durbin says Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, has told him to proceed apace.

“I told him that could put him on the spot,” Durbin said in a phone interview. “He said, ‘I want you to report every possible judge. Don’t slow down a bit.'”

MORE: Durbin weighs in on threats against law enforcement after Trump raid

That potentially means votes in a post-election lame duck session. But Durbin says his goal is to confirm a two-year total of 120 judges before the new Senate takes office–”the most in 25 years, since Bill Clinton, and they had some voice votes then.”

One thing Durbin has not done is junk the so-called blue-slip system in which a nominee for a district court will not proceed without the approval of both senators from their state. That has slowed down things some in red states, but the process overall is proceeding, he said, with Republicans occasionally signing off on Biden nominees.


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