McConnell’s ‘force of will’ shaped the federal judiciary

The most glowing admirers and fiercest detractors of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agree on one thing — his ability to move the federal judiciary in a more conservative direction.

McConnell is set to step down from his leadership post after the November elections, capping a record 18 years as party leader, six heading Republican majorities and 12 playing defense in the minority. Even though McConnell was majority leader only about a third of that time, he played a crucial role in pushing through judicial nominees put forward by then-President Donald Trump and, just as importantly, blocking judicial candidates nominated by then-President Barack Obama.

McConnell led the 10-month-plus 2016-17 effort to block Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, then-federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, from confirmation following Justice Antonin Scalia’s 2016 death. Trump’s eventual replacement for Scalia,
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