On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) gave a brief speech where he criticized Senate Republicans for applying different rules to Trump judicial nominees than they applied to President Obama’s, chided Donald Trump for naming almost exclusively white judges, and announced that he would not vote for Marvin Quattlebaum, a newly confirmed district judge. It was the kind of routine speech that Senate leaders give every week. And it’s now fueling a massive right-wing hate fest against Schumer.
On Thursday, the Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro published a piece with the provocative title “RACISM IN ACTION: Schumer: I Won’t Vote For This Judge Because He’s White.” It’s not an honest piece or an even remotely accurate one, but boy did it pop in certain dark corners of the internet! According to NewsWhip, a service that monitors news traffic across various media outlets, Shapiro’s claim that Schumer is the Real Racist™ was briefly the hottest story on the internet.
Shapiro builds his piece around a selectively edited video. That video cuts off earlier parts of the speech, where Schumer notes that the only reason why Trump was able to nominate someone to fill this vacant seat is “because two Republican senators from South Carolina refused to return a blue slip for two judges nominated for the same vacancy by President Obama.”
The “blue slip” is a form that senators submit to the Senate Judiciary chair to indicate that they support a nominee. In the Obama administration, when Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) led the Judiciary Committee, Leahy would not allow a nominee to advance unless both home state senators supported that nominee. The current Judiciary chair, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), has not allowed Democrats a similar veto power over Trump’s nominees.
After expressing concern about this double standard, Schumer also raised a second objection. “The nomination of Marvin Quattlebaum speaks to the overall lack of diversity in President Trump’s selections for the federal judiciary,” Schumer noted. “As of February 14th, 83 percent of the President Trump’s confirmed nominees were male, 92 percent were white.”
Shapiro’s edited video of Schumer’s remarks includes this second objection, but it does not include the first.
In any event, if Schumer actually were refusing to vote for Quattlebaum simply because the newly confirmed judge is white, that would be a major shift by the minority leader. Besides Quattlebaum, the Senate confirmed a total of 11 Trump nominees to federal district courts. Schumer voted for 10 of these 11 nominees — Quattlebaum is his first “no” vote. All of the ten nominees Schumer supported, according to the Federal Judicial Center, are white.
Before Trump took office, Schumer, who joined the Senate in 1999, voted to confirm literally hundreds of white people to the federal bench.
The problem here, in other words, isn’t that Schumer won’t support any white people named to the federal bench. It’s that Trump, who once claimed that a sitting federal judge could not be fair because of the judge’s “Mexican heritage,” appears unwilling to name virtually any judges who aren’t white.