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Mitch McConnell Declares 2020 the Year of ‘Leave No’ Judicial ‘Vacancy Behind’


While discussing judicial appointments Wednesday morning on a conservative radio show, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that his motto for 2020 is “leave no vacancy behind.”

McConnell joined The Hugh Hewitt Show for an interview on a variety of subjects, one day after Attorney General William Barr made some news doing the same.

The Senate Majority Leader revealed that when the Senate returns from its recess on May 4, the Senate will “start confirming judges again.” McConnell said that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic will not stop the Senate from leaving no vacancy behind.

“Well, the current plan is to go back in session on May the 4th. I haven’t seen anything that would discourage me from doing that. And as soon as we get back in session, we’ll start confirming judges again. We need to have hearings, and we need to confirm judge,” McConnell said, according to a transcript of the interview. “Hugh, you and I have discussed this before. My motto for the year is leave no vacancy behind. That hasn’t changed. The pandemic will not prevent us from achieving that goal.”

“That is music to my ears,” Hewitt said.

The comments from McConnell come exactly one week after President Donald Trump discussed judicial appointments at length during a Coronavirus Task Force briefing. The president went so far as to suggest that the Senate could and maybe should confirm nominees for lifetime positions in a hour’s time.

The above was not the only question Hewitt had for McConnell on judges. The radio host asked if McConnell was comfortable with the idea of federal judges revoking their retirements if their replacement was not confirmed.

McConnell was not as shy as Attorney General Barr was about answering this question:

Hewitt: Now I want to close, Senator McConnell, by talking about judges again. I raised a hypothetical with Attorney General Barr yesterday which he was not comfortable with, but I need an answer to, and I think a lot of federal judges who could retire need an answer to it. They would retire if they knew they could revoke their retirement if their replacement wasn’t confirmed. Do you believe it’s Constitutional for a federal judge at any level to turn in a resignation letter saying I will retire provided a successor is confirmed by December 31st, and if not, I am not retiring? Do you think that’s Constitutional?

McConnell: Good, I could be wrong, but I think that’s been done before, that retirements have been announced contingent upon replacement. I’m not certain about that, but that’s a good way to, that’s something worth taking a look at.

[Image via Win McNamee/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.