The right-wing takeover of the U.S. courts continued apace Thursday as the Republican-controlled Senate, with the help of some Democrats, quietly confirmed a dozen more of President Donald Trump's lifetime judicial nominees hours before leaving for Christmas recess.
"While all eyes were understandably on impeachment, Mitch McConnell's conveyor belt churned out a shocking number of judges this week in what remains the most underrated story of the Trump era."
—Christopher Kang, Demand Justice
The confirmations received little media attention amid Trump's impeachment and the 2020 Democratic debate, but progressives warned the consequences could reverberate for generations.
"While all eyes were understandably on impeachment, Mitch McConnell's conveyor belt churned out a shocking number of judges this week in what remains the most underrated story of the Trump era," Christopher Kang, chief counsel for advocacy group Demand Justice, said in a statement.
"Trump's hijacking of our judiciary will be his most enduring legacy," added Kang, "and it will continue to threaten everything progressives care about long after he leaves office."
The Senate has now confirmed 187 of Trump's disproportionately young and ultra-conservative judicial picks, putting them in a position to reshape U.S. law on reproductive rights, climate, and other areas for decades to come.
187 lifetime federal judges.
I say it often, but it becomes more serious every single day: Our rights are at stake. We need a pro-civil rights Senate. https://t.co/EsFCToXcPz
— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) December 19, 2019
According to the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, three of the judges confirmed this week refused to say whether Brown v. Board of Education—the 1954 Supreme Court decision that ruled racial segregation of public schools unconstitutional—was correctly decided.
Those judges, according to a list (pdf) from the Leadership Conference, are Mary Kay Vyskocil and Lewis Liman of the Southern District of New York and Gary Brown of the Eastern District of New York.
"McConnell is rushing to confirm as many lifetime nominees as he can to entrench his terrifying agenda."
—Lena Zwarensteyn, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights"McConnell is rushing to confirm as many lifetime nominees as he can to entrench his terrifying agenda," Lena Zwarensteyn, Fair Courts campaign director at The Leadership Conference, said in a statement. "With his caucus' full participation, he will stop at nothing to achieve through the courts what his party cannot accomplish legislatively: erasing the progress the nation has made to protect civil rights."
"With shameful glee, McConnell has transformed twenty percent of the federal judiciary already, and is intentionally installing individuals who have demonstrated hostility to the communities whose civil and human rights are most at risk under this administration," said Zwarensteyn.