Biden wants to fill federal court seats – but he needs to win the Senate first

Biden wants to fill federal court seats – but he needs to win the Senate first

Trump went into overdrive on filling court seats, but the Democrats must win in January’s runoff or a Republican Senate will block them at every turn

During the disastrous first presidential debate in September, Donald Trump mocked Barack Obama, and Joe Biden by extension, for leaving office with so many federal court seats unfilled.

“I’ll have so many judges because President Obama and him left me 128 judges to fill,” Trump said, slightly inflating the 105 vacancies he inherited. “When you leave office, you don’t leave any judges. That’s like, you just don’t do that … If you left us 128 openings, you can’t be a good president.

But as is often the case with Trump’s attacks, there is much more to the story than that. It is true that Trump inherited nearly twice as many federal court vacancies as Obama did in 2009. However, Democrats blamed the high number of vacancies on what they described as an unprecedented level of obstruction from Republicans after they took control of the Senate in 2015.

Over Trump’s lone term as president, he and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, have successfully remade the federal judiciary, and Democrats are anxious to confirm liberal judges once Biden takes office. But some Democratic lawmakers are already voicing concern that Republicans will once again obstruct judicial nominations if they keep the Senate by winning at least one of the Georgia runoff races next month.