Every Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee boycotted a hearing Wednesday for six of President Trump’s judicial nominees.
The committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (CA), and the other Democrats on the committee wrote a letter to Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley Monday demanding that he postpone the hearings until after recess when the Senate returns to Washington on November 13th.
"The Committee has never before held nominations hearings while the Senate is in recess before an election,” Democrats wrote. “The handful of nominations hearings that have been held during a recess have been with the minority’s consent, which is not the case here — in fact, we were not even consulted."
"Holding hearings during a recess, when members cannot attend, fails to meet our constitutional advice-and-consent obligations," they claimed.
Grassley responded that Feinsten had “agreed to the October 17 hearing date with full knowledge that the Senate could go into recess before then. And you specifically agreed not to object to the timing of hearings scheduled for October 10, 17, and 24.”
He said that he had already postponed a September 26 hearing twice and postponed an October 10 hearing once as “accommodations” to Feinstein and with her “full agreement.”
“Yet, you have requested that I postpone a lower court hearing for the fourth time,” Grassley noted. "It's unfair to the nominees, who have already flown to Washington, D.C. and made travel arrangements for their families, to further delay this hearing. And it's unfair to the American people. As a result of Democratic delay tactics, there are now 154 current and future judicial vacancies, 63 of which are classified as judicial emergencies. The judiciary simply cannot afford further obstruction from your side. “
Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana (R-LA) chaired the sparsely-attended hearing Wednesday in place of Grassley and Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mike Crapo (R-ID), and Ben Sasse (R-NE) were also present.
The battle over judicial nominees continues in the Senate in the wake of the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was able to reach an agreement to confirm 15 judges.