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'Someone Sees the Writing on the Wall': As Election Looms, Lindsey Graham Urges Older Right-Wing Judges to Step Aside

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also reportedly reached out to older judges to ask them to retire.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) arrive for a meeting with GOP senators in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, May 19, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Sen. Lindsey Graham on Thursday indicated he's joined Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's campaign to push older conservative federal judges to retire in the coming weeks, to ensure that President Donald Trump will be able to nominate their successors before the November election. 

In radio interview with Hugh Hewitt, South Carolina Republican said any judges in their mid-60s or older should consider taking "senior status," which would put them in semi-retirement and open up their seats for a new Trump nominee.

"This is an historic opportunity. We've put over 200 federal judges on the bench. I think one in five federal judges are Trump appointees," Graham said. "So if you're a circuit judge in your mid-60s, late 60s, you can take senior status, now would be a good time to do that if you want to make sure the judiciary is right of center. This is a good time to do it."

Graham urged judges to make their decision quickly, so the Senate Judiciary Committee, which the senator chairs, can rapidly hold confirmation hearings for nominees. 

With a number of Republican senators—including Graham, Susan Collins, and Cory Gardner—tied or polling several points behind their Democratic challengers less than six months before the election, Democrats have gained confidence that they may win control of the Senate in November. 

"Someone sees the writing on the wall," tweeted comedian Erik Bransteen after Graham's interview.

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Graham's comments came three weeks after progressive advocacy group Demand Justice denounced U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts's decision to not direct an investigation into the abrupt retirement of Judge Thomas Griffith from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the second-highest court on the nation.

The group wanted to know whether McConnell had been in touch with Griffith, as the Republican leader has reportedly also been pushing judges to retire.

On Wednesday, Democrats in the Senate released a 54-page report detailing how the GOP has "captured" the judicial system with the help of outside advisors and dark money groups. 

According to the report, right-wing activist Leo Leonard and a network of groups linked to him have lobbied for the nominations of conservative judges during Trump's term, leading the president to appoint nearly 200 judges.

"Our report exposes a twisted web of dark money, and special interest groups who behind the scenes are investing millions and millions to plant ideological activist judges completely remake the courts, and ultimately rewrite the Constitution," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

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