Less than a week after Senate Democrats cut a deal allowing Republicans to fast-track 15 of President Donald Trump's right-wing judicial picks in exchange for a recess that freed vulnerable lawmakers to hit the campaign trail, the GOP—surprising no one who has paid the slightest attention to American politics in recent decades—reneged on their so-called "truce" with the minority party on Wednesday and convened another hearing to start ramming through six more judges to lifetime federal court positions.
"Democrats' repeated attempts to make peace with an alligator have once again backfired. One of these days, maybe, they'll try something new."
—Paul Blest, Splinter
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee protested the hearing by refusing to attend and firing off an indignant letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)—the chairman of the committee—but it was immediately obvious to most observers that the Democratic leadership let Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) walk all over them... again.
"To me, it's a sign that they didn't just get stuffed in a locker here; they had their lunch money taken," Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice and the former spokesperson for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), told the New York Times.
"If the Democrats were going to fast-track all those Trump judges to get out of town for the rest of October," Fallon added, "the least they could have gotten for their trouble was a commitment from McConnell to not still hold hearings while the Senate was adjourned."
In a tweet on Thursday, Justice Democrats argued that the Democratic Party's repeated refusal to recognize that their political opponents are not operating in good faith—even in the aftermath of the "sham" confirmation process of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh—is just further evidence that the party is in desperate need of new leadership.
Schumer agreed to a deal with Republicans to confirm 15 conservative judges in exchange for allowing Senate Democrats to go home and campaign.
As we all saw coming, the GOP lied and went back on the deal.
We need new leadership.https://t.co/Qxx7nNHr7D
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Something is Happening. People are Drawing Lines.
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— Justice Democrats (@justicedems) October 18, 2018
Democrats need to stop being Charlie Brown.
"Senate Truce Collapses as G.O.P. Rush to Confirm More Judges Begins Anew" https://t.co/pwjomIJFR4
— Joshua Holland (@JoshuaHol) October 18, 2018
"If there's anything that the Kavanaugh confirmation should have taught Senate Democrats, it's that the Republicans are hell-bent on enacting their agenda, and have been wholly unconcerned with decorum and civility and all of the Senate's unwritten rules for years," added Splinter's Paul Blest. "And as we've seen here, the Democrats' repeated attempts to make peace with an alligator have once again backfired. One of these days, maybe, they'll try something new."
As a New York Times photograph nicely shows, the Dirksen Senate Office Building was unusually empty for Wednesday's hearing, with no Democrats in attendance and Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch (Utah) and John Kennedy (La.) running the show.
The ability of Senate Democrats to keep making the same strategic error over and over again is, in its own way, quite impressive. https://t.co/eklokNk8jS
— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) October 18, 2018
With no resistance from the opposing party, Republicans were free to lob softball questions at 36-year-old "right-wing ideologue" Allison Rushing, just one of the right-wing judicial nominees the GOP advanced on Wednesday.
"Tell me about your major disappointment in life," said Kennedy, who acted as chairman of the Judiciary Committee in Grassley's absence. "Have you ever failed at something?"
"This is a travesty," Nan Aron, the founder and president of the Alliance for Justice, said of Rushing's sparsely attended hearing. "It's a stealth effort to confirm a nominee who might not withstand the scrutiny of the full committee."