He gets another one: Trump nominates judge to fill Barrett’s soon-to-be vacant seat on the Seventh Circuit

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CHICAGO, IL – Fresh off the campaign trail and Thursday night’s presidential debate, there appears to be little downtime for President Donald Trump. 

The President is wasting no time finding someone to fill the seat likely soon-to-be vacated by the ascension of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. 

It appears that he is doing what he can while in the White House, to use his power to strengthen the conservative hold in courts at various levels across the nation. 

The Chicago Tribune reported Friday that President Trump nominated a replacement for Barrett on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which is in Chicago.

He has now recommended Thomas Kirsch for the job. 

A reporter for Bloomberg Law tweeted Wednesday that if Kirsch is confirmed, he will be President Trump’s 54th confirmed appellate judge.

The 46-year-old federal prosecutor is currently U.S. Attorney for the nearby Northern District of Indiana. 

Powerline reported that Kirsch is a Harvard Law School graduate and previously served as counsel to the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy. 

His biography on the Department of Justice website reads: 

“Mr. Kirsch led numerous complex high-profile white collar investigations and has prosecuted offenses in numerous areas, including mail and wire fraud, honest services fraud, tax fraud, bank fraud, health care fraud, conspiracy, extortion, money laundering, racketeering, obstruction of justice, perjury, and gangs and narcotics.” 

At this point, the Senate has approved Kirsch’s nomination for U.S. Attorney by a voice vote. Powerline predicts that this time around, “he will face fierce opposition from Democrats.” 

However, Republicans have the votes and two months to make the replacement happen, if they choose. 

But, before any vote for the seat in the Seventh Circuit, Barrett has to be confirmed as the next Supreme Court Justice. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee has already voted to advance her nomination to the Senate floor and the Senate is expected to vote on Monday. Experts predict that her nomination will go through. 

It appears that her potential replacement has a lengthy track record of experience in the field of criminal law. 

The Chicago Tribune reported that Kirsch has built a reputation on “aggressively pursuing public corruption and gang crimes.” 

The outlet reported that earlier this year, Kirsch announced wire fraud charges against longtime Whiting Mayor Joseph Stahura, after he allegedly misused campaign funds for personal gain.

In 2019, Kirsch’s office brought charges against 17 members of a vicious street gang, alleging they were responsible for 11 murders and dozens of other shootings, stabbings and assaults. 

It is no surprise that President Trump is hitting the gas pedal on filling vacant judiciary seats, with heavy hitters like Kirsch, who’s conviction record proves him to be.

Back in March 2019, Politico reported that he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell teamed up to prioritize confirming conservative judges to lifetime appointments. 

The news outlet said in February, after the Senate acquitted President Trump during his impeachment trial, that McConnell followed the ruling by immediately filing cloture (ending debate) on a number of judges. 

Back then, the Senate had already confirmed 33 circuit court judges during Trump’s presidency, with other nominees waiting in the wings. 

That gave President Trump approximately 20 percent of the Circuit Court seats in the United States, and that was just during the first half of his time in office. 

His most notable appointment to date is likely Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who drew heavy scrutiny from Democrats, but has made few controversial ripples during his time on the bench. 

A reporter for Bloomberg Law tweeted Wednesday that if Kirsch is confirmed, he will be President Trump’s 54th confirmed appellate judge.

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WASHINGTON, DC – The Senate plans to vote on Oct. 26 to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court and fill the seat left vacant by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death last month.

The vote will take place despite Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s attempt Monday evening to adjourn the Senate until after the election in order to stop the nomination of Barrett.

Schumer’s proposal failed, with the Senate voting 48 to 42 to table or not consider the motion any further.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)  told reporters after the Senate Republicans’ weekly lunch on Tuesday:

“We will be voting to confirm Justice-to-be Barrett next Monday, and I think that will be another signature accomplishment in our effort to put on the courts, the federal courts, men and women who believe in a quaint notion that the job of a judge is to actually follow the law.”

 

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote Barrett out of the panel on Thursday at 1 p.m. If Barrett is confirmed on Oct. 26, it will be the closest to a general election that a justice has been seated on the nation’s highest court.

 

McConnell’s announcement comes after he was assured that there were enough secure votes to confirm Barrett to the Supreme Court.

With a 53-47 Republican majority, and just two GOP senators opposed, Trump’s nominee, who is 48, should ensure a conservative hold on the court for years to come as only 51 votes are needed to confirm Barrett.

 

McConnell said Monday that Barrett demonstrated over several days of public hearings the “sheer intellectual horsepower that the American people deserve to have on the Supreme Court.”

Without the votes to stop Barrett’s ascent, Democrats have few options left. They are searching for two more GOP senators to break ranks and halt confirmation, but that seems unlikely.

Trump’s nomination of Barrett to replace Ginsburg on the Supreme Court has stirred controversy because it is happening so close to the election.

 

The sharp political polarization in the country and attention from the media to the unusual timing of the nomination might explain the interest Americans seem to have with Barrett this year.

 

According to a Gallup poll taken from Sept. 30 through Oct. 15, a majority of Americans want to see Barrett confirmed, with 51 percent saying yes. Only 46 percent do not want her seated, and 3 percent had no opinion on her nomination.

 

Gallup also reported:

“The public’s initial support for Barrett’s confirmation is higher than either of President Donald Trump’s two previous nominees — Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — had at any point prior to their confirmations. But opposition is also higher than any other nominee’s initial reading.

“This is owed to the fact that the percentage of Americans with no opinion on the Barrett vote is strikingly lower than it has been for any other nominee in Gallup’s history.”

 

With previous judges who were nominated and then confirmed, an average of 25 percent of Americans had no opinion on the nominees, according to Gallup’s report, but several factors may now be contributing to the high proportion of Americans expressing an opinion on Barrett’s confirmation:

“Among them is the fact that the nomination process is unfolding during a presidential election campaign in which millions of voters have already cast their ballots.

“Additionally, Democrats have cited the 2016 precedent when Republican senators refused to consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland nearly eight months before that year’s election.

“Moreover, the fact that Barrett had been cited in the past as a possible nominee by Trump may have raised awareness about her.”

While more Americans want to see Barrett confirmed than not, polling by other organizations has shown solid majorities wanting the winner of the Nov. 3 election and the newly elected Senate to make the nomination rather than President Trump and the current Senate, according to Gallup:

“While partisanship has always been a factor in the public’s reaction to prior nominees, the level of opposition to Barrett’s confirmation among Democrats is the highest Gallup has measured to date among those who identify with the party not holding the White House.

“The 84 percent of Democrats who stand against Barrett’s nomination exceeds the 67 percent who opposed Kavanaugh shortly after his nomination as well as the final 78 percent reading after his contentious confirmation hearings.

“Republicans’ support for Barrett’s nomination is also higher than any other nominee dating back to 1987. Nearly nine in 10 Republicans (89 percent) support her compared with 76 percent who were in favor of Kavanagh and Gorsuch.

“Independents’ 52 percent support for Barrett’s confirmation is identical to what it was for the woman who she would be replacing, Ginsburg. It is also on par with independents’ views of the nominations of Sonia Sotomayor and John Roberts, but it is higher than the last two nominees to the high court — Gorsuch (44 percent) and Kavanaugh (38 percent).”

https://twitter.com/Flyfishinmary/status/1315758886264029184

 

At last week’s hearings, Democrats seemed to sense that Barrett would probably be seated before Election Day, so they took the opportunity to present lengthy monologues before asking questions and painting a dark picture of what the Supreme Court might look like with Barrett in it.

Democrats suggested that the U.S. healthcare system and abortion rights may change with Barrett as a justice.

 

As a result, Biden has left the door open to the possibility that, if elected, he may move to add justices to the Supreme Court, but he refuses to make a public commitment at this time.

When asked during the Sept. 29 debate whether he supported packing the Supreme Court, presidential candidate Biden said:

“I’m not going to answer the question.”

His running mate, Harris, has also avoided the question recently.

Earlier this month Biden told a reporter on Oct. 9 that voters don’t deserve to know what his answer on court packing is.

We also reported how Republican senators are proposing a Constitutional amendment to prevent Democrats from packing the Supreme Court in the future. Here is that story.

Six GOP Senators, led by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), have crafted two proposals designed to prevent court-packing, or increasing the number of Supreme Court justices beyond the current number of nine.

One proposal is a Constitutional amendment to maintain the number of Supreme Court justices at nine.  The amendment would require approval by two-thirds of the House and Senate, and then ratification of three-fourths of the states.

The second proposal would require agreement from two-thirds of the Senate before legislation changing the size of the Supreme Court could be considered.

Senator Cruz explained:

“Make no mistake, if Democrats win the election, they will end the filibuster and pack the Supreme Court, expanding the number of justices to advance their radical political agenda, entrenching their power for generations, and destroying the foundations of our democratic system.”

He added:

“We must take action before Election Day to safeguard the Supreme Court and the constitutional liberties that hang in the balance.”

Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), Cruz’s fellow Senate Judiciary Committee member who joined Senator Cruz in presenting these proposals, expressed similar concerns about power in the hands of Democrats. 

He stated:

“For the last few years, Democrats have made no secret of their desire to see a radical, socialist agenda imposed on the American people.”

Tillis continued:

“Unable to implement their job-killing plans through the Democratic process, they’ve decided they’ll simply impose it on the American people through the Supreme Court.”

Given recent statements from prominent Democrats, concerns of the senators about Democrat attempts to pack the Supreme Court in the event of a Biden win appear to be well-founded.

In September, as Law Enforcement Today previously reported, Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez told NBC’s Adam Harding:

“We should leave all options on the table, including the numbers of justices that are on the Supreme Court.”

With regards to a specific question on expanding the Supreme Court, she replied:

“I think that’s absolutely an option that we should be weighing.”

Rep Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) tweeted in September:

“If he holds a vote in 2020, we pack the court in 2021.

“It’s that simple.”

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) also tweeted in September:

“No Supreme Court vacancies filled in an election year.

“If [Senate Majority Leader McConnell] violates it, when Democrats control the Senate in the next Congress, we must abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court.’’

Of course, the most publicized responses to the question of court packing have come from Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Back in 1983, Biden called a failed attempt by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937 to pack the Supreme Court a “bonehead idea.”

He added:

“It was a terrible, terrible mistake to make. And it put in question, if for an entire decade, the independence of the most-significant body … in this country, the Supreme Court of the United States of America.”

As recently as 2019, Biden also presented himself as opposed to court packing.  In July of that year, he stated:

‘‘I’m not prepared to go on and try to pack the court, because we’ll live to rue that day.’’

He later said in October 2019:

‘‘I would not get into court packing. We add three justices. Next time around we lose control, they add three justices. We begin to lose any credibility the court has at all.’’

Lately, however, the Democratic Presidential candidate has taken on a stance that can be best described as confusing or avoidant.

He evaded the question at the September 2020 Presidential debate with Donald Trump, tellingmoderator Chris Wallace:

“Whatever position I take on that, that will become the issue.”

Biden later demonstrated a plan to continue to avoid questions on court packing at a campaign event in Arizona October 8, when he stated:

“They’ll know my opinion on court-packing when the election is over.”

The following day, as we previously reported, Biden stated that voters did not “deserve” to know his position on increasing the number of Supreme Court justices.

Later, on October 14 during an interview in Cincinnati, Biden claimed he was “not a fan” of packing and then deflected from the topic.

He said:

“I’ve already spoken on — I’m not a fan of court packing, but I don’t want to get off on that whole issue. I want to keep focused.”

For her part, Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris appears to be following Biden’s lead on avoiding the question on court-packing. 

During a September 28 broadcast of Lawrence O’Donnell’s The Last Word, Kamala answered a specific question on expanding the Supreme Court by saying:

“Joe’s been very clear that he is going to pay attention to the fact – and I’m with him on this 1,000% – pay attention to the fact that right now, Lawrence, people are voting. They’re voting.”

However, when Harris was running for President in 2019, she stated she was “absolutely open” to discussing packing the Supreme Court.

Vice President Mike Pence has evidently made up his mind about Biden and Harris’ position on court packing.

At a campaign stop for President Trump in West Michigan, Pence told the crowd that Biden intends to add seats to the Supreme Court.

Pence called this presumed move the “biggest power grab” in American history.

According to recent polls, American citizens do not favor court packing.

Back in March 2019, a Rasmussen poll showed 51% of likely voters were opposed to court packing, with 27% in favor, and 22% undecided.

Americans have evidently not veered from this course, even in light of Amy Coney Barrett’s prospective addition to the Supreme Court.

In a September 2020 poll conducted by ABC and the Washington Post, 54% of respondents opposed increasing the number of U.S. Supreme Court justices.  32% favored the move, 12% had no opinion, and 2% answered that it depended on who wins the Presidential election.

The New York Times conducted a poll in October that asked:

“If Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed to the Supreme Court and Joe Biden is elected president, do you think that Democrats should or should not increase the size of the Supreme Court to include more than nine justices?”

58% of respondents opposed an increase in the size of the Supreme Court.  31% approved, and 11% did not know or refused to answer.

The party line breakdown in the Times poll was not too surprising, with 89% of Republicans opposed, and only 28% of Democrats opposed.  65% who identified themselves as “Other” party also opposed court-packing.


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