A coalition of 29 national advocacy organizations argued Tuesday that "as long as the cloud of impeachment exists, it would be a grave mistake for the Senate to allow the president to continue making lifetime appointments to the federal judiciary."
The groups made their argument in a letter (pdf) to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) that came just a few weeks after the Democrat-controlled House voted mostly along party lines to impeach President Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Progressive critics have repeatedly warned about the sweeping and long-term consequences of McConnell and Graham working with Trump to remake the federal court system by using the Senate's GOP majority to rapidly confirm dozens of far-right appointees. The letter notes that "such appointments are nearly irrevocable; federal judges serve for life and can be removed only through their own impeachment."
"Federal judges are appointed to positions that are the most central to maintaining the rule of law and the preservation of our constitutional democracy," the letter reads. "Federal judges have a unique role in protecting our most fundamental rights, including the right to vote. A president under the cloud of impeachment for abusing his power and assaulting the legitimacy of our elections cannot be trusted to appoint the judges who are supposed to protect our elections and the right to vote."
The Senate must come together now to do what is right and choose #CountryOverParty by stopping the consideration of the president’s judicial nominees. #StoptheConfirmations https://t.co/CvNuIw3is0 pic.twitter.com/WK0QxFWgDy
— PFAW (@peoplefor) January 7, 2020
Along with a call for the Senate's GOP leaders to temporarily suspend judicial confirmations, the letter urges the upper chamber to "live up to what the Constitution requires and conduct a full and fair trial," pointing out that McConnell has vowed to closely coordinate with the White House for impeachment proceedings.
Signatories of the letter include People For the American Way (PFAW), the National Women's Law Center, Alliance for Justice, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), MoveOn, Common Cause, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Service Employees International Union, and Sierra Club.
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"It is ludicrous, and frankly offensive, to suggest that a president who has been impeached because of his contempt for our elections and for the rule of law should continue to have his nominations to the federal bench move ahead as if all were well," PFAW executive vice president for policy and program Marge Baker said in a statement announcing the letter.
"Senators McConnell and Graham need to show that they grasp this central fact," Baker continued. "These are not normal times or normal circumstances, and the GOP leadership should be hitting pause—under such grave circumstances—on rubber-stamping this president's lifetime appointments to the federal bench."
Alliance for Justice president Nan Aron asserted that "determining whether the president committed high crimes and misdemeanors should be the only issue the Senate addresses at this time. It's a grave matter of national importance."
Anything less than a total suspension of judicial appointments "would amount to a grave dereliction of constitutional duty," declared Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, another signatory.
Echoing the letter, Gupta added that "we cannot allow a president who demanded foreign interference in our elections and obstructed Congress to pack our courts with lifetime appointees."
"Our nation is in the middle of a constitutional crisis," said NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson. "Adding more judges to the courts can and must wait."