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Mitch McConnell Prioritizes Judicial Confirmations as Senate Returns Amid Pandemic

HeadlineMay 08, 2020

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brought senators back from an extended, six-week recess this week but did not schedule any coronavirus-related measures. McConnell’s first order of business was a confirmation hearing for 37-year-old Justin Walker, President Trump’s nominee for a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. If confirmed, Walker will replace 65-year-old Judge Thomas B. Griffith, who announced in March he’s planning to retire in September. The progressive advocacy group Demand Justice is asking federal courts to investigate whether Senator McConnell pressured Judge Griffith to retire to clear the way for Walker — who’s a protégé of McConnell. At Walker’s Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin said he’d rather be addressing the coronavirus pandemic.

Sen. Dick Durbin: “It is the gravest challenge and crisis that we have faced, many of us, in our lifetime. And so I thought, if the Senate Judiciary Committee is coming back for business, there’s certainly a lot of things we can bring up. …

The list is lengthy. And unfortunately, it isn’t the reason we’re returning this week. Instead, we’re considering the nomination of a 37-year-old family friend of Senator McConnell’s to the second-highest court in the land.”

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