Do Senate Republicans plan the fastest confirmation process “in modern history,” according to the Washington Post? Only if “modern history” started after the disco era, and somehow doesn’t include the grunge era either. Regardless of media ignorance, Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham will set their aim for the end of October for a full floor vote on the nominee, whomever that might be, and it would fit well within the pre-judicial wars timeframe for confirmations:
The timeline for a hearing as tentatively envisioned by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) is unprecedented in modern history, particularly during an era in which toxic partisan fights over the judiciary have only further polarized the Senate. If he sticks to his preliminary schedule, the Senate would be on track to hold a final confirmation vote by the end of October to replace liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday.
GOP senators say they are confident there will be sufficient time to vet whomever Trump announces as his pick on Saturday, particularly if the nominee is someone already known to senators, such as Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. She is by far the leading candidate, according to people familiar with the discussions who were not authorized to publicly comment on them, as Trump mulls his third pick for the Supreme Court.
That would give the Senate about thirty-five days to conduct a full cycle of confirmation on Donald Trump’s nominee. That’s only a week less than it took for the Senate to confirm Ginsburg herself in 1993, which took 42 days from appointment until the final floor vote. The previous dean of the liberal wing, John Paul Stevens, got confirmed in 19 days in 1975, which even in sports is considered “modern history.” Why, we even have a handful of people alive at this very moment who can still dimly recall 1975 in their lives!
What makes this an even sadder reflection on the Post and its reporters and editors is that the paper had just graphed out the data on this five days ago. A 35-day process would even exceed Sandra Day O’Connor’s 1981 confirmation cycle (33 days) by two days. The average for days to confirm since Stevens is 68, but at least some of that comes from the usual retirement cycle for justices; they would usually announce in the summer, and a president would make his choice known before the Senate returns from its summer recess.
Clearly, a 35-day confirmation process would be a bit speedier than some, but well within practice in “modern history,” and plenty of time to vet a candidate. It would be a bit trickier in this case, though, because the Senate doesn’t have 35 legislative days on its calendar. A third of its members will be on the campaign trail, and the Senate schedule in October would normally have been light to accommodate that. They will have to cram a bit more than some of the other confirmations in “modern history” because of that lack of legislative time.
One way to get around that problem is to choose someone the Senate Judiciary Committee has recently vetted to a significant level. And that would probably mean an eventual Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, whom Trump recently met for a discussion. The only discussion, perhaps:
Despite discussions earlier this week about Trump interviewing another finalist, Judge Barbara Lagoa of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, later this week in Florida, the president said at a news conference late Wednesday that he had no plans to meet with her. He also suggested he had already selected someone, referring to “the person I chose.”
“It’s time for a woman to be chosen, with everything that’s happened and with Justice Ginsburg’s passing,” Trump said.
Barrett had long been rumored as Trump’s choice for replacing Ginsburg when the time came. The White House has been very focused on judicial appointments at all levels, but especially for the Supreme Court because of its import with conservatives. Trump and his team see that as one of the keys to his win in 2016, and a potential key to unlock a second term. It’s not exactly a huge surprise that this decision was made months ago, if not years ago. Since everyone more or less knew that was the likely choice, it also makes it easier to unite the Senate GOP caucus around Barrett too, as opposed to a wild-card choice where support would have to build from scratch.
That’s certainly one way to speed the process, even if it’s still well within “modern history” precedents. As is disco, I might add. Ah ah ah ah, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive …