Feinstein Calls on GOP to Stop Seating Trump Judges in Lame Duck

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in May.(Carlos Barria/Pool via AP)

WASHINGTON (CN) — Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, urged Republicans on Thursday to stop processing President Donald Trump’s nominees for the federal bench during the lame-duck period. 

“Going back to 1984, the Committee has only twice held a nominations hearing in the lame duck period of a presidential election year — once in 2004, following President George W. Bush’s reelection, and once in 2012, following the reelection of President Obama,” she wrote in a letter to Chairman Lindsey Graham. 

“Unlike Presidents Bush and Obama,” Feinstein added, “President Trump has lost his reelection bid.”

Graham, who won reelection in South Carolina, has scheduled a hearing for Nov. 18 for the Senate Judiciary Committee to take up more judicial nominees sent over from the White House. 

With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the helm, Trump and the GOP-Senate have secured 222 federal judges, including three conservative and highly controversial Supreme Court justices. 

But Feinstein said President-elect Joe Biden —- and her fellow California Democrat and soon-to-be Vice President Kamala Harris — appear to be headed to a final victory of 306 electoral votes, with more than 77 million popular votes already locked in. 

With Biden and Harris well underway with their transition to the West Wing, Graham should respect the “long and established tradition” of not processing judicial nominations after Election Day, she argued. 

“The Committee should accordingly cease to process judicial nominations and allow the Biden-Harris Administration the opportunity to appoint judges after Inauguration Day,” Feinstein wrote. 

Her letter is unlikely to change the course of the Republican-majority Senate between now and Jan. 20. The entreaty follows Graham breaking with committee precedent and setting a vote on then-Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court before the conclusion of her confirmation hearing. 

Feinstein’s call for Graham to show restraint also came the same day the Senate voted 56-21 to confirm Aileen Mercedes Cannon, Trump’s pick to serve as a district judge in the Southern District of Florida. She currently works on criminal appeals for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the same district. 

Senators likewise confirmed James Ray Knepp with a 64-24 on Tuesday to serve as a judge in the Northern District of Ohio. 

McConnell on Thursday filed cloture motions — to limit debate on the Senate floor — ahead of final votes to confirm six more Trump judges in the coming days. 
Among the nominees the Senate is expected to greenlight is Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, a Jones Day attorney rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Association to serve as a judge in the Middle District of Florida.

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