With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expected as early as Wednesday to use the so-called "nuclear option" to speed up the confirmation process for President Donald Trump's right wing judicial nominees, progressives raised alarm and urged Americans to pressure their senators to stop the "reckless court packing" by the Republican Party.
"McConnell has signaled he is ready to use the so-called 'nuclear option' to further pack the courts with Trump’s lifetime judicial appointments," tweeted the progressive advocacy group 5 Calls. "Tell the Senate to block McConnell and stop further erosion of our democratic norms!"
McConnell is moving forward w/ the nuclear option to limit floor debate on district judge nominations & speed roll extremists onto the federal bench.
— 5 Calls (@make5calls) April 2, 2019
On Tuesday, Republicans failed to reach the 60 votes necessary to advance S. Res 50, which would change Senate rules to cut debate time on district court nominees and other lower-level judges from 30 hours to just two hours.
The vote, which was expected to fail, set the stage for McConnell to use the "nuclear option," which would allow the resolution to pass with just a simple majority of 51 votes.
McConnell is expected to begin the process on Wednesday, HuffPost reported.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, denounced McConnell for attempting to carry out "a short-sighted, partisan power grab."
"And it is motivated by the far-right's desire to flood the federal judiciary with young, ideological nominees, many of whom—as we have seen time and again in the Judiciary Committee—are simply unqualified to serve on our nation's courts," Leahy said. "Post-cloture time is a critical tool for senators, especially those who do not sit on the Judiciary Committee, to vet nominees for lifetime judgeships."
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, tweeted, "Presidencies aren't forever. But federal court nominations last a lifetime."
"McConnell has been leading an effort to rig the rules and rubber-stamp hostile nominees who lack capacity to be fair and impartial," Clarke added. "We must condemn this."