New­som gets con­firmed in 66-31 vote

Trump ap­points fifth judge, now out­pac­ing Obama and Bush

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY ALEX SWOYER

Pres­i­dent Trump may be fac­ing a road­block on the rest of his nom­i­nees — but he’s out­pac­ing his pre­de­ces­sors when it comes to get­ting fed­eral judges con­firmed, with his fifth court pick ap­proved by the Se­nate on Tues­day.

Alabama lawyer Kevin Christo­pher New­som was con­firmed to a seat on the 11th U.S. Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals on a 66-31 vote, with 16 Democrats join­ing the GOP.

He’s the third cir­cuit judge ap­proved so far, and com­bined with one dis­trict judge and Supreme Court Jus­tice Neil M. Gor­such, puts the pres­i­dent and the GOP-led Se­nate well ahead of pace.

By com­par­i­son, Pres­i­dent Obama had zero judges con­firmed in his first six months and it took him un­til Novem­ber of 2009 to get three cir­cuit court nom­i­nees cleared through the Se­nate.

Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush had one cir­cuit judge and two dis­trict judges con­firmed by Au­gust of his first term.

“The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has moved faster on fill­ing ju­di­cial va­can­cies com­pared to the past ad­min­is­tra­tions, thanks to its com­mit­ment to work­ing with and ex­ten­sively con­sult­ing all se­na­tors, re­gard­less of po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion, to select high­cal­iber nom­i­nees,” said Kelly Love, a White House spokesper­son.

Mr. Trump has roughly 137 fed­eral court va­can­cies to fill and he has an­nounced a to­tal of 28 ju­di­cial picks — far more than Mr. Obama at this point, though slightly be­hind the pace of Mr. Bush.

“The pres­i­dent has his work cut out for him, but re­shap­ing the ju­di­ciary by ap­point­ing con­sti­tu­tion­al­ist judges may well be­come the defin­ing fea­ture and most last­ing legacy of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion,” said John Mal­colm, le­gal and ju­di­cial stud­ies direc­tor for the Her­itage Foun­da­tion.

Although Mr. New­som was the pres­i­dent’s fifth con­firmed ju­di­cial pick, Mr. Trump still has more than a dozen nom­i­nees wait­ing to be cleared by law­mak­ers. Ac­cord­ing to the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s count, there are seven cir­cuit court nom­i­nees and 17 dis­trict court nom­i­nees pend­ing in the Se­nate.

Con­ser­va­tives blame Demo­cratic se­na­tors for slow-walk­ing the con­fir­ma­tion process. Democrats say they’re not ob­struct­ing, but in­stead, vet­ting the ju­di­cial records of Mr. Trump’s fed­eral court picks.

The top Demo­crat on the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, Cal­i­for­nia’s Sen. Dianne Feinstein, backed Mr. New­som’s nom­i­na­tion. But she warned Democrats will in­sist on more con­sul­ta­tions when it comes to nom­i­nees from their home states. Known as the blue slip tra­di­tion, con­sul­ta­tion with home-state se­na­tors has emerged as a stick­ing point for some of Mr. Trump’s ju­di­cial picks.

“Many of the cur­rent nom­i­nees have vo­lu­mi­nous records, and we need to al­low home-state se­na­tors to do their work,” Ms. Feinstein said on Mon­day.

Mr. New­som en­joyed bi­par­ti­san sup­port early on, re­ceiv­ing an 18-2 vote out of the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee last month.

“As Chair­man Grass­ley pointed out prior to that vote, sev­eral life­long Democrats and Repub­li­cans have penned let­ters to the com­mit­tee tout­ing Mr. New­som’s ‘pro­fes­sion­al­ism and qual­i­fi­ca­tions,’” said Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, Ken­tucky Repub­li­can.

Mr. New­som has ex­pe­ri­ence in pri­vate prac­tice as well as gov­ern­ment work, where he pre­vi­ously served as Alabama’s so­lic­i­tor gen­eral. He has ex­pe­ri­ence ar­gu­ing be­fore the Supreme Court and he clerked for for­mer Supreme Court Jus­tice David Souter. He grad­u­ated from Har­vard Law School.

The 11th Cir­cuit cov­ers Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

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