WaPo: "President Trump has remade the federal judiciary"; 1 in 4 Circuit Court Judges Now a Trump Appointee

WaPo: “President Trump has remade the federal judiciary”; 1 in 4 Circuit Court Judges Now a Trump Appointee


This is absolutely incredible. 

I knew President Trump was having a big impact on the court system, appointing dozens and even hundreds of new judges, but I didn’t fully realize the scope until I just saw this:

1 in 4 judges circuit court judges are now a Trump appointee!

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Talk about a legacy!  

And he’s only in his first term, folks!

Even the Washington Post is covering the story:

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Trump is getting the job done with the help of Mitch McConnell and the Republicans in the Senate.

From the WaPo:

After three years in office, President Trump has remade the federal judiciary, ensuring a conservative tilt for decades and cementing his legacy no matter the outcome of November’s election.

Trump nominees make up 1 in 4 U.S. circuit court judges. Two of his picks sit on the Supreme Court. And this past week, as the House voted to impeach the president, the Republican-led Senate confirmed an additional 13 district court judges.

In total, Trump has installed 187 judges to the federal bench.

Trump’s mark on the judiciary is already having far-reaching effects on legislation and liberal priorities. Just last week, the 5th Circuit struck down a core provision of the Affordable Care Act. One of the two appellate judges who ruled against the landmark law was a Trump appointee.

The Supreme Court — where two of the nine justices are conservatives selected by Trump — could eventually hear that case.

Trump hails the appointment of over 150 federal judges as a major achievement for Republicans.
The 13 circuit courts are the second most powerful in the nation, serving as a last stop for appeals on lower court rulings, unless the case is taken up by the Supreme Court. So far, Trump has appointed 50 judges to circuit court benches. Comparatively, by this point in President Obama’s first term, he had confirmed 25. At the end of his eight years, he had appointed 55 circuit judges.

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Trump’s appointments have flipped three circuit courts to majority GOP-appointed judges, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York. The president has also selected younger conservatives for these lifetime appointments, ensuring his impact is felt for many years.
The executor of this aggressive push is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is almost singularly focused on reshaping the federal judiciary, twice ramming through Senate rule changes to speed up confirmations over Democrats’ objections.
"Leave no vacancy behind” is his mantra, McConnell has stated publicly. With a 53-to-47 Senate majority, he has been able to fill openings at breakneck speed.

From Fox News, watch:

1 in every 4 Circuit Court judges is now a Trump appointee

1 in every 4 Circuit Court judges is now a Trump appointee

Posted by Fox & Friends on Monday, December 23, 2019

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And even the typically left-leaning Vox had to admit that Trump's judges are some of the BEST qualified in recent memory:

In less than three years as president, President Trump has done nearly as much to shape the courts as President Obama did in eight years.

Trump hasn’t simply given lots of lifetime appointments to lots of lawyers. He’s filled the bench with some of the smartest, and some of the most ideologically reliable, men and women to be found in the conservative movement. Long after Trump leaves office, these judges will shape American law — pushing it further and further to the right even if the voters soundly reject Trumpism in 2020.

Let’s start with some raw numbers. Both Obama and Trump appointed two justices to the Supreme Court but Trump’s impact on the highest Court far exceeds Obama’s, because Trump replaced the relatively moderate conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy with the hardline conservative Brett Kavanaugh (that was after appointing conservative Neil Gorsuch to fill Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat). Obama’s appointees — Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — largely maintained the balance of power on a conservative Court, while Trump has shoved that Court even further to the right.

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On the courts of appeal, the final word in the overwhelming majority of federal cases, more than one-quarter of active judges are Trump appointees. In less than three years, Trump has named a total of 48 judges to these courts — compared to the 55 Obama appointed during his entire presidency. 

At this point in the Obama presidency, Obama had appointed only 24 court of appeals judges, meaning that Trump is appointing appellate judges twice as fast as Obama. At a similar point in their presidencies, President George W. Bush had filled only 30 seats on the federal appellate bench; President Clinton, 27; President George H.W. Bush, 31; and President Reagan, 23.

On the district courts, the lowest level of federal courts, Trump’s impact has been less significant. Obama appointed 268 federal trial judges in eight years, while Trump’s only appointed 112 so far. But district judges deal far more often with routine matters like individual criminal sentences and trial schedules, and far less often with the kind of blockbuster cases that shape thousands of lives. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor said in a candid moment while she was still a lower court judge, “the court of appeals is where policy is made.”

It’s tempting to assume that Trump’s judicial appointees share the goonish incompetence of the man who placed them on the bench, but this assumption could not be more wrong. His picks include leading academics, Supreme Court litigators, and already prominent judges who now enjoy even more power within the judiciary.

Before he became president, Trump promised to delegate the judicial selection process to the Federalist Society, a powerful group of conservative lawyers that counts at least four Supreme Court justices among its members. “We’re going to have great judges, conservative, all picked by the Federalist Society,” Trump told a radio show hosted by the right-wing site Breitbart while he was still a candidate. 

The Federalist Society spent decades preparing for this moment, and they’ve helped Trump identify many of the most talented conservative stalwarts in the entire legal profession to place on the bench.

There’s no completely objective way to measure legal ability, but a common metric used by legal employers to identify the most gifted lawyers is whether those lawyers secured a federal clerkship, including the most prestigious clerkships at the Supreme Court. Approximately 40 percent of Trump’s appellate nominees clerked for a Supreme Court justice, and about 80 percent clerked on a federal court of appeals. That compares to less than a quarter of Obama’s nominees who clerked on the Supreme Court, and less than half with a federal appellate clerkship.

In other words, based solely on objective legal credentials, the average Trump appointee has a far more impressive résumé than any past president’s nominees.

And they’re young, too. “The average age of circuit judges appointed by President Trump is less than 50 years old,” the Trump White House bragged in early November, “a full 10 years younger than the average age of President Obama’s circuit nominees.”

Trump’s nominees will serve for years or even decades after being appointed. Even if Democrats crush the 2020 elections and win majorities in both houses of Congress, these judges will have broad authority to sabotage the new president’s agenda.


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