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2019 vote studies: Markey leads in voting against judicial nominees

Massachusetts Democrat says Trump nominees 'overwhelmingly' unqualified

Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., voted "no" on Trump's judicial picks 87 times in 2019.
Sen. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., voted "no" on Trump's judicial picks 87 times in 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The leader of the resistance in the Senate is Edward J. Markey — at least when it comes to voting against the president’s judicial nominees.

In 2019, the Massachusetts Democrat led his colleagues in their symbolic protest as President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to reshape the ideological balance on the courts.

[2019 vote studies: Pelosi sets record holding caucus in line]

McConnell, R-Ky., dedicated an unprecedented amount of the Senate’s time to confirming judges last year, placing 105 of them on federal courts.

Markey voted “no” 87 times, far more often than the average of 54 times in the Democratic caucus. Never in modern U.S. history — and perhaps in all of it — has a senator cast so many “no” votes in a single year against a president’s judicial picks.

Markey says he did so because “Trump’s judicial nominees overwhelmingly have been inexperienced, unqualified and rigidly ideological.”

Beyond that, Markey faces a primary election on Sept. 1 that could end his more than four-decade career in Congress. His Democratic opponent, Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, is presenting himself as a more vigorous opponent of Trump.

But in a Senate where Democrats were mostly united in opposition to Trump on policy matters in 2019, senators’ positions on judges clarified how much resistance they were willing to offer.

Those “no” votes had no chance of affecting the outcome, given the need only for a simple majority to confirm a judge in the GOP-controlled Senate. But those who voted “no” more often than not demonstrated that they believed Trump’s polarizing presidency required them to reject old Senate norms, which said that presidents should generally get their court picks.

Overall, Markey cast only five policy votes with Trump, seven in favor of Trump judicial nominees and eight for nominees to executive branch jobs. That placed him, with four missed votes, in opposition to Trump on 166 of 190 votes on which Trump expressed a preference. The senator who voted against Trump’s wishes second-most often was Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley, who cast 145 votes in defiance of Trump overall, and 74 against judicial nominees.

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