Break Specialists: GOP Uses Recess to Move Judges
It’s no wonder Democrats were desperate to get out of Washington and onto the campaign trail. Of the 35 Senate seats on the ballot this year, Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) party is defending 26. So when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agreed to recess two weeks early, he made sure to exact a price: 15 more judicial confirmations. Now, after tearing through those, McConnell is making it clear — he’s not close to finished.
The Brett Kavanaugh story may have had a happy ending, but the GOP is a long way from forgetting what liberals did to the Supreme Court justice. If anything, the bruising process only made the majority leader more determined. “He’s mad as a mama wasp,” Senator John Kennedy told Roll Call about McConnell. And he’s making Democrats regret it with another full slate of nominations.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), McConnell’s partner in the race to confirm the most judges in Senate history, interrupted the October recess to announce that he was holding Judiciary Committee hearings tomorrow – with or without his campaigning colleagues. After all, others have pointed out, the Senate was already scheduled to be in session until the end of the month. It was only after McConnell cut a deal on nominations that the Senate left for their home states.
The Majority Leader made Democrats an offer: “The Senate would adjourn until after the midterm elections, provided Democrats don’t force the full 30 hours of debate allowed for each nominee.” Anxious for his party to go home and defend their seats, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) agreed. The result? Fifteen more confirmations to benches from the 2nd, 3rd, and 9th Circuit Courts and 12 federal district judges — bringing the grand total of Senate-approved judicial nominees to a jaw-dropping 84 (including 53 trial judges, 29 appeals judges, and two Supreme Court justices). When Democrats started catching heat for taking such a lopsided deal, Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.) insisted they had no choice. “If we stayed here for two or three weeks, we’d probably have done the same thing,” he told Politico.
Recess or no recess, Senator Grassley explained, there were important things on the calendar — and he doesn’t intend to move them just because Democrats are worried about the elections. “It’s unfair to the nominees, who have already flown to Washington D.C. and made travel arrangements for their families to further delay this hearing,” Grassley wrote to the committee’s top Democrat, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). “And it’s unfair to the American people.” If liberals hadn’t been using “delay tactics,” he points out, the Senate wouldn’t be in this mess. “There are now 154 current and future judicial vacancies, 63 of which are classified as judicial emergencies,” he wrote to Feinstein. “The judiciary simply cannot afford further obstruction from your side.”
Naturally, the California Democrat (who happens to be in the fight of her campaign life) wrote an indignant letter back. “The Committee has never before held nominations hearings while the Senate is in recess before an election. The handful of nominations hearings that have been held during a recess have been with the minority’s consent, which is not the case here — in fact, we were not even consulted. In addition, three of us on the Democratic side represent the Ninth Circuit, and are unable to return to Washington for a day due to commitments in our states.”
That’s funny, Senator Grassley replied, since “…you consented to hearings scheduled for October 10, 17, and 24. You made this agreement after I accommodated your numerous requests for postponements and with full knowledge that it was possible the Senate would go into recess in October,” Grassley said. If the Left takes its constitutional duty as “seriously” as Feinstein says, they’ll be there. If not, Grassley will move ahead on a handful of stellar constitutionalists, including Allison Jones Rushing for the 4th Circuit Court and another full slate of district judgeships.
Regardless of what happens in November, McConnell has already been quite clear that he plans to start moving at break-neck speed to confirm as many of the president’s picks as possible until the end of the year. If that means keeping the Senate in session until Christmas, so be it. “I don’t think he’s bluffing,” Senator Kennedy said. Neither do Democrats.
The tag-team of McConnell and Grassley have been so successful that, as the majority leader tweeted before the weekend, “Nearly one out of every six circuit court of appeals judges has been appointed by @POTUS and confirmed by this Republican Senate.” If you’re wondering what’s at stake in this election, you’re looking at it.
Originally published here.
Pastor Brunson: Two Years — and Millions of Prayers — Later
It’s been a whirlwind few days for the Brunson family, who’s still adjusting to seeing Pastor Andrew in front of cameras — not behind bars. From his home church near the Black Mountains to U.S. senators, Americans everywhere are celebrating the return of one of their own.
At Christ Community Church in North Carolina, where the congregation had gathered regularly to pray for the Brunsons, a spokeswoman said they spent this past Sunday rejoicing instead. Members and staff were “doing the happy dance and shouting hallelujah,” she told reporters. And they weren’t the only ones. Senators, House members, and administration officials — many of whom had worked the better part of two years for Pastor Brunson’s release — were beside themselves with relief. “Our God still reigns over the affairs of nations,” Congressman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told me on Monday’s “Washington Watch.” “It looked very, very bleak… And yet, it is the prayers of brothers and sisters across the globe that have been lifted up [and answered].”
This morning, people finally had the chance to hear from Pastor Brunson on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” where he explained how much strength he gained just from knowing Christians were interceding on his behalf. “This is one of the very surreal things… we’re not known people. We’re not very important people. We’ve been working in Turkey in obscurity for a number of years. But around the world, millions of people in many countries were praying for us. And even though this caused us a lot of hurt, I think that God is using this — was planning this — to bring blessing to Turkey. Now there are millions of people praying for Turkey.”
“At this point,” he explained, “I’m one of the most hated men in Turkey, probably.” But it wasn’t always that way. “Our purpose in going to Turkey was to tell people about Jesus Christ. We did that very openly, and we were never involved in anything political.” They were absolutely shocked by their arrest. “The way I survived that was by just spending hours in prayer, just to keep my sanity.” Some of those prayers, he explained, were for the president. So it was all the more meaningful when he had the chance to pray for the president with the president.
The Brunsons certainly had a champion in this president, Rep. Meadows pointed out. “Sometimes administrations are not willing to put the full force of the United States government in diplomatic negotiations. And yet this president and this administration did so… He deserves an unbelievable gratitude — not just from Republicans and Democrats or unaffiliated — but for those who believe in religious liberty.”
For more on Pastor Brunson and my experience in Turkey, don’t miss my interview with Fox News’s Shannon Bream from Monday night.
Originally published here.
Gosnell’s Success Has Liberals Reeling
It was the little production that could. After years of battling Hollywood, Facebook, NPR, and even a crowdfunding site, Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer defied all odds on opening weekend. By Sunday, the film had climbed to number 10 on the box office charts — despite a media bent on ignoring the movie and the real-life drama.
For the husband-and-wife team who fought to tell the story, the numbers don’t lie. After last weekend, the film was number one on the indie film chart — and despite debuting in just 673 theaters, brought in more than $1.2 million. Although some critics refused to screen the movie, the ones who did were overwhelmingly impressed. On Rotten Tomatoes, which aggregates the scores of almost every review, Gosnell earned a score of 67 percent, beating out crowd-pleasers like last year’s The Greatest Showman by 11 points. And it was an even bigger hit with audiences, who gave the film a 99-percent approval rating.
It’s just too bad, CNS News points out, that so many media outlets seem “as uninterested in the film as they were when the actual Gosnell trial happened five years ago.” In politics, co-producer Phelim McAleer said, “there’s an equivalent term for this: voter suppression. It is a sad attempt to pretend our film isn’t in theaters across America. But they can’t ignore the box office numbers. We humbly thank all of our fans across the country for this great opening. The people have spoken.”
If you’ve seen the movie or read people’s accounts from the theaters — which range from audiences sitting in silence well after the credits or joining hands for impromptu prayer — you know what a difference the story is making. “This is not your typical pro-life movie. There’s no heart-warming storyline about a challenging but ultimately successful adoption. There’s no nervous single mother who sees an ultrasound and decides to leave the abortion clinic and raise her child against all odds. There is just horror, plain and simple.” And yet, National Review’s Alexandra DeSanctis goes on, “it’s the most powerful kind of anti-abortion movie that could ever be made, because every minute of it… [is true].”
Do your part to spread the truth: buy a ticket. For a listing of theaters near you, click here. Or, to hear from the stars of Gosnell, like Dean Cain, watch this panel from VVS on the challenges of making a movie about the realities of abortion.
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.