WASHINGTON - So, because I had a loose couple of hours, I thought I'd drop by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Lindsey Graham now presiding, and watch the process of how five percent of the federal judiciary gets staffed in 44 individual fell swoops. The committee also reported favorably to the full Senate the nomination of William Barr to be the next Attorney General of the United States. The vote on his nomination was straight party-line, 12-10 in favor.
Barr is one of those Beltway fixtures who pop up every time there's a Republican in the White House. (He's already been confirmed three times in his life for one important job or another, including one stint as AG under Poppy Bush from 1991-1993.) But, as should be obvious by now, this is not your average Republican president*, and Barr didn't help himself by drafting an unsolicited 19-page memo explaining how Robert Mueller's obstruction of justice probe was "grossly irresponsible," "fatally misconceived," and possessed of "potentially disastrous implications." Elsewhere in the memo, Barr said the president* had been right to fire James Comey, and suggested that, while Mueller's probe was all those terrible things, the FBI really ought to go deeper into the mock-scandal regarding the Uranium One deal.
During his confirmation testimony, Barr tap-danced around his views on the Mueller investigation and about whether or not he'd make sure the eventual report would be made public. All of which queered the pitch for him with any Democratic senator on the committee who otherwise might have been open to his nomination.
"He has telegraphed his views to the White House," said Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, "Perhaps that's why he was chosen."
As for the judges, well, they were more of the same Federalist Society flotsam that's been washing into the federal judiciary ever since El Caudillo del Mar-a-Lago wandered into the most powerful job on earth. (Sometimes, it's helpful to remind yourself that this is the case.) Many of them were holdovers from the previous Congress. A couple of them have said that they couldn't say if Brown v. Board of Education was decided correctly. One of them has accused Planned Parenthood of killing thousands of women because abortion causes breast cancer. A whole bunch of them are opposed to the rights of LGBTQ citizens, and a few of them have been active in defending voter suppression laws. One of them thinks poverty is "a mind-set," and that American society has become a society of "leeches." Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii does not think any of this to be coincidental.
"Who gets on the federal courts for life is high-stakes," she said. "Just ask the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, who have spent decades and lots of money placing people who are on their ideological page on our federal courts. That over 80 percent of Trump's nominees are members of the Federalist Society is no accident...And yet, only four percent of American lawyers are Federalist Society members. Court-packing is continuing apace. Just sitting here before us, saying we will follow the law, and follow Supreme Court precedent-well, that's what they all say."
It was a clear look into the future. It was remarked upon by Graham that a good portion of the Democratic representatives on the committee is made up of people presently running, or considering running, for president. These judges, this one-fifth of the federal judiciary, will play an outsized role in judging any policies put in place by any Democratic president to repair the vandalism and neglect brought onto the institutions of government by this administration*. In this case, Donald Trump is forever.
Respond to this post on the Esquire Politics Facebook page here.
('You Might Also Like',)