As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) continues to ram through President Donald Trump's extreme and unqualified judicial nominees at a record pace, a report card released on Friday slammed Senate Democrats for aiding the right-wing takeover of America's courts.
"Senators can condemn Trump until they're blue in the face, but actions speak louder than words, and when it comes to judges, too many Democrats vote too often with Trump."
—Brian Fallon, Demand Justice
According to Demand Justice, a progressive advocacy group that focuses on the federal judiciary, a majority of Senate Democrats voted to confirm Trump's judges 60 percent of the time or more in 2017 and 2018.
As a result, more than a third of Senate Democrats received either a D or an F grade in the new report card, which examined votes on Trump's Supreme Court, district court, and circuit court nominees.
"Senators can condemn Trump until they're blue in the face, but actions speak louder than words, and when it comes to judges, too many Democrats vote too often with Trump," Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, said in a statement. "A disappointing number of Democrats have buried their heads in the sand and helped Trump and Mitch McConnell to pack the courts with judges representing the far-right fringe of the country."
The report card graded Democrats using several metrics, including votes to confirm Trump's nominees and votes to advance judges by invoking cloture. Senators were also penalized if they returned a "blue slip"—an expression of approval—for judges in their home states.
Due to their frequent votes to advance and confirm Trump's nominees, Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Tom Carper (Del.), Mark Warner (Va.), and Michael Bennet (Colo.) all received F grades from Demand Justice.
"Trump and Senate Republicans aren't carrying out this hijacking of our courts on their own," the report notes. "If we truly want to defeat Trump's agenda, Democrats can't surrender this fight. Senate Democrats ought to be opposing each and every judge that Trump nominates."
To ensure that Democrats are held accountable for their votes, Demand Justice is launching a digital ad buy in the home states of lawmakers who received failing grades—an effort to let voters know that their senators are aiding Trump's transformation of the nation's courts.
While condemning senators who received failing grades, Demand Justice applauded the Senate Democrats who consistently vote against Trump's disproportionately young and ideologically extreme lifetime judicial nominees.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) received an A grade and the top score from Demand Justice.
Though Klobuchar received an F for her frequent votes to advance Trump's nominees, other 2020 presidential candidates fared much better, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) receiving an A and Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) receiving an A-.
Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Kirsten Gillibrand both received a B+.
"This report card should send a message to every Democrat, especially those who have their eyes on the White House in 2020, that progressives will hold them accountable if they don't take the fate of our courts seriously," said Fallon.
The Demand Justice report card comes as McConnell is reportedly considering changing Senate rules—often called the "nuclear option"—to speed the confirmation of Trump's judicial picks.
Angel Padilla, national policy director at Indivisible, told The Daily Beast that Democratic senators must do everything in their power to stop McConnell's efforts to completely reshape the federal judiciary for generations to come.
"We've heard loud and clear from our movement that they expect senators to do everything in their power to resist Trump's takeover of the courts," Padilla said. "The rights we are all working so hard to protect can and will be undone if Trump succeeds in filling the courts with extreme and unqualified judges."