Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham called on older appeals court judges to step aside and make room for younger nominees, applying new pressure to get more conservatives into the confirmation pipeline in the final months of President Donald Trump’s first term in office.
“If you’re a circuit judge in your mid-60s, late-60s, you can take senior status, now would be a good time to do that if you want to make sure the judiciary is right-of-center, this is a good time to do it,” Graham, R-S.C, said in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Thursday.
Senior status is a form of semi-retirement federal judges can take when they’ve reached a certain age and years of service.
Trump has worked to reshape the federal judiciary with conservatives. With the help of a friendly Republican-led Senate, he’s been able to confirm 192 federal district and appellate judges and two Supreme Court justices.
That work has left him now with little work to do to fill appellate seats. Only two nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and the Fifth Circuit are currently being vetted in the Senate.
Circuit courts sit one rung below the Supreme Court and are the last stop for virtually all federal appeals.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, is reportedly also working to get judges to retire to make more room for Trump to appoint their successors. That effort has been met with backlash from liberal groups who say it’s unethical.
Separately, the White House announced plans to nominate two attorneys to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. Fred Joseph Federici is a federal prosecutor and Brenda M. Saiz is a trial lawyer.
Federici has worked as a federal prosecutor for 25 years and previously worked at Venable in Washington.
Saiz is a director at Rodey Dickason Sloan Akin & Robb and leader of the firm’s Products and General Liability Practice Group. She is also an adjunct professor at University of New Mexico School of Law.