Back when the late Senator Dianne Feinstein’s health was fading, Senate Republicans made it clear that if she resigned, they’d block any Democratic Party attempt at replacing her on the Senate Judiciary Committee. That would mean no more federal judges could be confirmed for the rest of the term. It’s why Feinstein had to remain in office until she passed away.
But now, seemingly out of nowhere tonight, the Senate has unanimously confirmed new Democratic Senator Laphonza Butler to the Senate Judiciary Committee, as announced on Twitter. So what happened? We don’t know, and we may never know. I’m fond of pointing out that 90% of politics takes place behind closed doors, and that what we see in public is a mere vapor trail from whatever really went on behind the scenes.
But I do know this. Whenever something in politics is supposed to be impossible, and then suddenly it turns out your side’s leader has pulled it off, it means your side’s leader is super savvy. In this case that would be Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. He turned whatever pressure knobs needed to be turned behind the scenes, so that Senate Republicans would give up and allow the Judiciary Committee vacancy to be filled.
There is no overstating just how big of a victory this is. Since 2021, President Biden and Chuck Schumer have been on a record setting pace in terms of confirming federal judges to vacancies at all levels. Now that process will continue through the end of 2024. This also means Biden and the Democrats will be able to fill any Supreme Court vacancies that might unexpectedly open up between now and the end of 2024. This is, simply put, a huge deal.
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