That’s how Quin Hillyer describes the Senate Republicans’ reluctance to push judicial nominees. Hillyer is being charitable. Confirming stalled and new appeals court nominees should be the Senate’s highest priority. First, the window for confirming conservative nominees (some of whom have been waiting for years) may well be closing. It’s far from clear that Republicans will have a majority in the Senate after this year, and it’s unlikely that they will control enough seats to use or credibily threaten the nuclear option. Second, as Hillyer shows, fighting for conservative nominees is an excellent way to reduce the likelihood of losing seats.
The legacy of the Gang of 14 agreement is still up for grabs. But, as Hillyer notes, so far it has left more appellate slots unfilled than it has helped to fill. Unless that changes, conservatives will have every right to feel betrayed by the deal and by the Republican dealmakers.