Senate Minority Whip Predicts Biden to Have 'Little' Impact on Judiciary as GOP Will 'Freeze' His Picks

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin said on Monday that he expects President-elect Joe Biden to have a "very little" impact on the federal judiciary as the Republican Party will "freeze" his picks, if they retain Senate majority.

"If the last two years of the Obama administration were any indication, they'll freeze them out," Durbin said during an interview with Politico. "Hope springs eternal, but I believe in history."

Durbin's comments come amid election turmoil, with many GOP lawmakers refusing to work with Biden.

Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley also spoke to Politico and said, "I imagine they'll have a tough time just because I'm not going to vote for people who I think are, to use my words, 'judicial imperialists.'"

"But maybe he'll surprise me if [Biden] is indeed the president, who knows, maybe he'll send up nominees who are constitutionalists and textualists. I kind of doubt it," Hawley said, according to Politico.

When Biden takes office in January, he will have less judicial vacancies to fill than Trump, who was inaugurated with 112 vacancies, including a Supreme Court justice. Biden will have 59 vacancies to fill when he takes office, with 36 nominees currently pending.

Dick Durbin
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about the Crossfire Hurricane investigation on Capitol Hill November 10. When Joe Biden takes office, he will have 59 vacancies to fill when he takes office, with 36 nominees currently pending. Pool/Getty

Despite Biden's projected win in the 2020 presidential election, many Senate Republicans have expressed that they plan to continue confirming judges during Trump's time as a lame-duck president.

"The good news is that we've done a good job—and we're not done as you know—filling the vacancies that there are on the appellate courts to minimize the opportunity for more liberals on it," said North Dakota Republican Senator Kevin Cramer, Politico reported.

Amid divisive rhetoric from Democrats and Republicans, lawmakers from both parties have noted that they will need to compromise on Biden's judiciary nominees.

Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn, told Politico that, "If we keep the Senate, then it'll be a negotiation."

Cornyn continued, "Perhaps [Biden] will welcome the fact that the most radical nominees will not be confirmed by a Republican majority. That we'll actually have to negotiate and come up with something that's agreeable to both sides."

Similarly, Delaware Democratic Senator Chris Coons told the publication that "If anyone can sit down and work out with [McConnell]…a way to come to an agreement that we will move nominees, it's President-elect Biden. I have lived through years and years of McConnell's obstruction. I know this will be a challenging task."

Prior to Durbin's comments on Monday, he published an op-ed on CNN.com on November 25, where he wrote that, "President-elect Joe Biden's judicial and executive nominees could receive prompt and fair consideration, bringing balance back to our courts and ensuring the agencies under our jurisdiction are fully staffed with qualified officials to protect our national security and civil rights."

Newsweek reached out to Durbin's office and Biden's transition team for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.