Senate confirms two more circuit court judges after Jeff Flake lifts blockade

Senate confirms two more circuit court judges after Jeff Flake lifts blockade

  16 Aug 2018

The Senate confirmed two more appeals court judges Thursday, continuing to make progress on President Trump’s goal of revamping the federal judiciary after a maverick Republican dropped his blockade.

Sen. Jeff Flake earlier this summer had halted progress on judges, staging a protest over Mr. Trump’s trade policies.

But after getting the chance to vote on a non-binding statement of pushback against Mr. Trump, the Arizona Republican relented last month and the GOP was able to clear more judges through the committee pipeline, readying them for floor votes.

The latest two to earn full Senate approval were Marvin Quattlebaum and Julius Richardson, both of whom will sit on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Quattlebaum was confirmed 62-28, while Mr. Richardson was cleared by 81-8.

Judge Quattlebaum was confirmed last year as a district court judge and Mr. Richardson worked as assistant U.S attorney for the District of South Carolina since 2009.

Mr. Trump has now placed 26 judges on the circuit courts.

Mr. Flake, a frequent Trump critic, had held up the process, alerting colleagues in June that he wouldn’t allow any appeals judges to clear the Judiciary Committee, until he got a floor vote on his objections to Mr. Trump’s tariffs, which the president has pursued against a number of trade competitors.

The GOP only has a one-seat majority on the committee. Mr. Flake was threatening to join Democrats in voting against nominees, which could have bottled them up in committee.

That would have been particularly disruptive for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had canceled most of senators’ August vacation to keep them in town to make progress on spending bills and presidential nominees.

Mr. Flake said last month that the non-binding tariff vote satisfied his request so he lifted his blockade. Three judges, including Thursday’s nominees, have been confirmed since.

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