I’ve followed politics my entire life and had no idea that, in a U.S. Senate split 50-50, committees (including Judiciary) are also split 50-50, but if the Dems are up by one, that all changes:
Under President Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell was venerated — or denounced — for his efficient and cutthroat approach to ramming through Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court picks and confirming federal judges.
In four years, Mr. McConnell’s Senate majority confirmed three right-wing justices and 234 new judges overall, many of them youthful conservatives rubber-stamped by the Federalist Society. These Trump appointees can serve for the rest of their lives; it is plausible that some of them will still be remaking federal law 30 or 40 years from now. Most of these judges are avowed originalists, fiercely opposed to the “living Constitution” school that dominates liberal jurisprudence and allowed for all sorts of social progress that is now being turned back. The overturning of Roe v. Wade is the exemplar.
Since Democrats retook the Senate majority in 2021, Mr. Biden has undertaken his own successful counteroffensive, in tandem with Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader. Mr. Schumer’s Senate has actually confirmed federal judges at a faster rate than Mr. McConnell’s at the time of the first midterm election. So far, over 85 judges appointed by Mr. Biden have been confirmed, including a new Supreme Court justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson. The judges, overall, are traditional liberals, many of them younger and nonwhite. Mr. Biden and Mr. Schumer were willing to elevate judges who were former public defenders, an unlikely prospect in the law-and-order 20th century.
If Mr. Warnock wins, the Senate can move more rapidly and seek judges who are perhaps more progressive in their worldviews — the sort who could hit a snag if someone like Joe Manchin, the centrist from West Virginia, or Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona is the deciding vote.
Democrats must evenly split committee members in the 50-50 Senate, giving Republicans the power to delay votes on judges. A 51-49 majority would be much more dominant: Committees like the judiciary would be stacked with Democrats, greatly speeding up the confirmation process. There are about 75 vacancies on U.S. District Courts and nine at the appellate level. That number is bound to grow as more judges retire in the next two years.
The more you know!