When Donald Trump was elected and then started tweeting strange things or firing staffers, liberals asked conservatives, "Was Gorsuch worth it?" They are referring, of course, to the logic behind why many conservatives rallied for Trump — They wanted a conservative Supreme Court justice in the mold of Justice Scalia to replace him. Many liberals, and even conservatives, are acting now like that litmus test has passed, as if there's no redeeming factor.
Not so. Trump is still nominating judges and the Senate still needs to confirm them. Much is on the line during this process, far beyond one presidency and one federal judge. It showcases a true battle of ideas and values.
Business Insider observed in June: "When it comes to nominating judges to the federal bench, Trump is moving at a breakneck pace. And the number of nominees for vacant US attorney positions, a crucial area, is dwarfing that of the past administration this early on."
Still, these nominations must be confirmed.
Here's just one example why: On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled that the board of commissioners in Jackson County, Mich. — represented by First Liberty Institute, a non-profit law firm that deals with religious liberty issues — may open its meetings with invocations. In two cases, the Supreme Court found invocations before government meetings to be constitutional and historically common, but this case still faced a tenuous battle. (In another similar case in Rowan County, N.C., the Fourth Circuit ruled against the Rowan County commissioners in a split 10-5 vote.)
The types of cases these federal judges hear affect important facets of our lives — religious freedom, freedom of speech, or the right to bear arms, to name a few essential liberties. The people Trump nominates for these positions, which the Senate must confirm, are often the only people standing between freedom and another legal fight to preserve them.
This is why it's so egregious that people such as Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., would block the nomination of qualified judges (from his own state!) such as Justice David Stras. While Franken's strategy for failing to send in his blue slip is exactly the reason why conservatives want Stras on a federal bench — because he would be an excellent judge in a pivotal role — it makes him no less qualified, but rather proves how important of a pawn he is in the political game for freedoms politicians like to play.
In a press release, Judicial Crisis Network's Chief Counsel and Policy Director Carrie Severino said:
By choosing to obstruct Justice David Stras's nomination, Senator Franken is proving that he cares less about the rule of law and competent judges than he cares about scoring political points. Justice Stras follows the law, he has broad support from across the political spectrum in Minnesota, he was reelected by wide margins (wider margins than Senator Franken), and he even earned the highest rating from the liberal American Bar Association. Senator Grassley has all the evidence he needs that Democrats have abused the blue slip process, and that it is time to move forward despite the obstruction.
On any given day, there are cases like the one about invocations that federal courts must decide. It's imperative conservative justices are pushed through to federal benches as quickly as possible. The cases pending before courts like these and the decisions these judges make on them will far outlast any presidency or any absurd attempt to block the process.
The Trump presidency has been unique and even confusing at times, but in stealthily nominating dozens of conservative judges, the administration has proven it at least understands how pivotal these judges will be to our freedoms. It's been enlightening, even a little fun, to watch Democrats scramble to try to block or interrogate men and women who are more than qualified for these roles.
Were some weird tweets worth a few dozen conservative federal judges? Perhaps.
Nicole Russell is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is a journalist in Washington, D.C., who previously worked in Republican politics in Minnesota. She was the 2010 recipient of the American Spectator's Young Journalist Award.
If you would like to write an op-ed for the Washington Examiner, please read our guidelines on submissions here.