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Senate Dems urge more cross-aisle support on court nominations

Lawmakers complained that congressional Republicans have provided fewer letters of support for the White House’s judicial picks than Democrats did under the last administration.

WASHINGTON (CN) — Republicans need to step up bipartisan efforts to confirm the Biden administration’s judicial nominees, Senator Dick Durbin implored in committee Thursday.

As the Senate Judiciary Committee met to vote on Amanda Brailsford, the White House’s pick to fill a vacancy at the U.S. Court for the District of Idaho, the panel’s chair thanked the Gem State’s Republican congressional delegation for their help.

Brailsford’s nomination received the support of Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, Durbin said. “[They] worked in good faith with the White House to expeditiously fill this vacancy,” the Illinois Democrat added.

Durbin used that bipartisan effort as a springboard to demand more Republicans step up to assist Democrats in confirming judicial appointments. Lawmakers who represent the administration’s nominees can signal their support through a process known in the Senate as blue-slipping.

Democrats did their part in blue-slipping judicial nominees when a Republican controlled the White House, Durbin argued.

“As I’ve mentioned before, during the Trump administration, Democratic senators signed 110 blue slips,” the lawmaker said. “So far, there have been 17 blue slips signed by Republicans during the Biden administration. I plead with my colleagues to make a good faith effort to sit down and see if they can reach an agreement with the White House on nominees.”

Bipartisanship is particularly important to Democrats on the judiciary panel considering the extended absence of committee member Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who has been away from Washington since February while she recovers from a case of shingles. Republicans earlier this month blocked an effort to temporarily replace the lawmaker, arguing such a move would cede voting ground to Democrats looking to push through some of President Biden’s more radical judicial nominees.

Despite Feinstein’s absence, work has continued advancing the White House’s court picks. The judiciary committee last week advanced nine nominees — seven judges, a U.S. attorney and a U.S. marshal — with some bipartisan support.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, the panel’s ranking member, told lawmakers at the time that he felt the committee could run smoothly without Feinstein, 89, and signaled that he would be willing to reach across the aisle on some White House appointments.

The judiciary committee, meanwhile, advanced Brailsford’s nomination to the Idaho federal court on a voice vote. Before she was tapped for the vacancy, Brailsford was a judge on the Idaho Court of Appeals — previously, she had been a civil litigation attorney for a private practice were she primarily focused on agricultural litigation. An Idaho native, Brailsford received her law degree from the University of Idaho.

Before gaveling out so that members could attend a joint session of Congress with Yoon Suk Yeol, the visiting president of South Korea, Durbin also noted that the judiciary panel would again postpone debate on a triumvirate of bills aimed at stemming online exploitation of minors.

If made law, the measures would establish a national organization to set standards for how computer service providers such as Facebook and Twitter should prevent and respond to online sexual exploitation of children. The legislation would also raise criminal reporting requirements for service providers and limit their liability protections against alleged violations of child exploitation laws.

“I know our offices are working hard on this legislation, and I look forward to moving on these bills next week,” Durbin said.

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Categories / Courts, Government, National, Politics

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