By LISA MASCARO, AP Congressional Correspondent
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has put more judges on the circuit courts this far into his first two years than other administrations had, thanks to Senate Republicans.
The Senate on Thursday confirmed two more of Trump’s nominees, bringing to 26 the number of new appellate judges that have been approved this session of Congress.
The judges confirmed Thursday — U.S. District Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. and U.S. Attorney’s Office Deputy Chief Jay Richardson — will fill seats on the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in South Carolina.
A Trump-nominated judge now holds one out every seven seats on the circuit courts, according to the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Republicans have made a priority of confirming judges in their fight to hold the Senate majority ahead of the fall midterm election. Democrats have stalled many of Trump’s picks.
Conservatives have long taken an interest in the judiciary. McConnell leads a narrowly divided Senate, 51-49, which makes it difficult to pass legislation. But he has seized on the chance to reshape the courts in the Trump era. Judges can be confirmed with a simple majority of senators.
Some Democrats have complained that Trump and Republicans are stacking the courts with some of the more conservative jurists in the nation. They point to cases when nominees were pushed forward for confirmation without backing from a nominee’s home-state senators. Other court picks from Trump are getting bipartisan support.
Democrats had changed the rules several years ago, when they had control, to allow judicial nominees to be confirmed with a majority vote.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., praised the Trump nominees from his state Thursday in a floor speech ahead of the vote.
He called Quattelbaum “one of the most capable lawyers I’ve ever met.” And he called Richardson, who successfully prosecuted Dylann Roof in the Mother Emanuel AME Church shooting in South Carolina, “one of the great legal minds of our time.”
Both judges were overwhelmingly approved by the Senate.