Triple-Play Judiciary Hearing Is Designed to Obscure
Washington, D.C., August 30, 2017 – In response to the announcement by the Senate Judiciary Committee that it will combine confirmation hearings for two circuit court judicial nominees, Amy Coney Barrett (Seventh Circuit) and Joan Larsen (Sixth Circuit), with the hearing for Eric Dreiband, President Trump’s nominee to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, into a single hearing on September 6, AFJ President Nan Aron released the following statement:
“Tripling up on hearings for such important nominations is an incredibly disingenuous ploy by Republicans in charge of the Judiciary Committee. This virtually assures that none of these nominees will be questioned in much detail, which means senators and the American people will not get the answers they deserve about these individuals’ problematic records. You have one judicial nominee who thinks it’s okay for judges to put their religion above the law, another who thinks presidential power is virtually unlimited, and a person named to head the Civil Rights Division who has consistently fought civil rights protections, vigorously opposing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and working to make it harder for older workers and persons with disabilities to fight discrimination. Senate Republicans don’t want any of this to come out in televised hearings, and they’ve set this up to minimize that risk.”
It has long been the practice of the Senate Judiciary Committee to consider only one circuit court nominee per nomination hearing. Exceptions are very rare. For example, the Judiciary Committee held hearings for more than 60 of President Obama’s circuit court nominees, but on only three occasions was a hearing held for two circuit court nominees at the same time — and each time this was done with the support of the minority party.
By contrast, at this early stage in the Trump presidency, we are already seeing a second hearing at which Judiciary Committee Chair Grassley has scheduled two circuit court nominees for one hearing. Earlier this year, three judicial nominees — John Bush, Kevin Newsom, and Damien Schiff — were scheduled for hearings on a single day, contrary to practice. Unfortunately, rather than the rare exception it was under Obama, the doubling and even tripling up of nominees who have hearings in a single day appears to be becoming a customary practice.