Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has apparently decided to give a middle finger to Sen. Jeff Flake, the retiring Arizona Republican who says he’ll vote against judicial nominees in committee and on the floor until McConnell allows a floor vote on his legislation to protect the Mueller investigation. At the end of the day Thursday, McConnell filed cloture on two of the very worst of Trump‘s nominees: district court nominee Thomas Farr of North Carolina and 8th Circuit nominee Jonathan Kobes. The votes will happen when the Senate returns after Thanksgiving.
Farr has been waiting for a vote since the Judiciary Committee passed him back in January. Farr “helped draft North Carolina’s voter suppression law, defended racially discriminatory gerrymandering and may have lied to the Senate about his role in disenfranchising black voters when he worked for the late Sen. Jesse Helms.” He’s a nightmare, his history of voter suppression extreme. And he lied to the Judiciary Committee about it. The uproar following his success in the Judiciary Committee might be why McConnell has been reluctant to have the floor vote, but it’s typical of him that he’ll use it now to give a massive “fuck you” to Flake.
Kobes is one of six Trump nominees that the American Bar Association has rated “not qualified.” He’s General Counsel for Republican Sen. Mike Rounds, which is apparently how he got the nomination. In explaining the rating they gave Kobes, the ABA wrote that “has neither the requisite experience nor evidence of his ability to fulfill the scholarly writing required of a United States Circuit Court Judge. … [H]e was unable to provide sufficient writing samples of the caliber required to satisfy Committee members that he was capable of doing the work of a United States Circuit Court Judge.” None of the writing that he did provide, they say, “is reflective of complex legal analysis, knowledge of the law, or ability to write about complex matters in a clear and cogent manner.” The ABA’s opposition to him didn’t stop Chairman Grassley; he just held the hearing before they provided their rating and didn’t allow them to testify about it. One thing for sure we know about Kobes is that he’s anti-LTBTQ and anti-choice. Because of course he is.
Flake, of course, can’t stop these nominees on his own. It’s yet another opportunity for Republican Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to furrow their brows and express their concern. There are, however, another three Republicans who with Flake voted that special counsel protection bill out of the Judiciary Committee: Grassley, Thom Tillis (NC), and Lindsey Graham (SC).