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May 24, 2024

Elections Determine the Judiciary

Just as Donald Trump remade the judiciary during his term in office, Joe Biden is doing the same.

Everybody’s talking about the 2024 presidential election. Right now, though, the focus is on inflation, immigration, abortion, and protests on college campuses.

Those issues matter, but sometimes presidential appointees are more important than any policy or position, and judicial appointments are one of the most overlooked but critical decisions a president can make. Although Donald Trump has been out of office for nearly four years, the ripple effect of the judges he selected has helped to stem the tide of leftist activism to some degree. Likewise, however, Biden’s appointments today will also outlast his presidency.

NBC News reports, “The winners of the presidency and the Senate majority in the 2024 election will have the power to shape the courts for the next few years, and the two men have dramatically different criteria in choosing nominees.” You don’t say.

This exchange between Senator Ted Cruz and a Biden judicial appointee who put a 6'2" male in a female prison because of preferred pronouns and hormone treatment will sufficiently illustrate what’s at stake:

Although Trump didn’t place as many judges on the federal bench as his predecessor, Barack Obama, his appointments were noteworthy. At the end of Trump’s presidency, according to Pew Research, “There were 816 active judges serving across the three main tiers of the federal court system: the Supreme Court, 13 regional appeals courts and 91 district courts governed by Article III of the U.S. Constitution. Trump appointed 28% of those judges. That includes three of the nine sitting Supreme Court justices, 30% of the nation’s active appeals court judges and 27% of active district court judges.”

While these numbers make it seem like conservatives are making inroads, the Biden administration is moving at breakneck speed to fill even more vacancies than Trump.

“Confirming more than 234 judges — the number confirmed during Trump’s presidency — with lifetime appointments would provide Biden with the type of governing imprint that Trump, should he win in November, could not erase,” Politico excitedly reports, adding, “If Democrats can exceed 234 judges, they will have replaced about one-quarter of the federal judiciary and with an unprecedented level of diversity on the bench.”

We certainly hope Biden won’t be in the Oval Office next January 21, but these appointments will still help thwart Trump’s agenda should he win the election on November 5.

The most important judicial selection, of course, is that of a Supreme Court justice. Roe v. Wade and affirmative action in college admissions are gone, thanks to Donald Trump’s three High Court appointments, and reducing regulatory power is on the table this year. Currently, conservative-leaning justices hold a 6-3 edge, but Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito are in their 70s, while John Roberts and Sonia Sotomayor are knocking on the door at age 69, so it’s possible the next president may need to appoint multiple replacements.

The mere idea that another Trump term might lead to an even greater conservative majority on the High Court worries people like former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer.

Pfeiffer observed, “Republicans who did not like Trump, at the last minute, were willing to hold their nose and vote for Trump because they care about the Supreme Court. So, I think we can do that in reverse.”

Unless there’s an unexpected vacancy in the coming months, that strategy will not likely pay off. But that won’t stop Democrats from scheming to influence the process.

Since the New Deal, Democrats have salivated over the idea of packing the Supreme Court. While they haven’t let that one go, more recent tactics include pushing for term limits, threatening to add more justices to lower courts, and drumming up public support to force conservative justices to recuse themselves.

Sometimes, they just abuse the process altogether. For example, before 2017, Judiciary Committee chairs wouldn’t move judicial nominees through the process unless both of the U.S. senators from the nominee’s state agreed. It was more of a long-honored tradition than a requirement, but Democrats turned it into a makeshift filibuster to block Republican nominations during Trump’s presidency, and it was ultimately discontinued.

Now, fearful of Trump’s return, Senator Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin seeks to restore the practice before the November presidential election. Even some Republicans support Durbin’s move to make the process less political. It will be interesting to see whether the majority party keeps it in place if reinstated.

For now, Biden keeps rushing to fill empty spots with nominees loyal to his radical agenda. CBS News reports that while Biden has now outpaced the number of Trump’s appointments, “surpassing the 234 judges Trump named to the federal bench during his first and sole term may be difficult given the Senate’s schedule in the run-up to the November election, since several Democratic senators in states won by Trump in 2020 are working to hold on to their seats and are likely to spend the coming months on the campaign trail.”

The big takeaway, then, is that choosing a president goes far beyond the immediate politics of the day. Our votes matter, and the person we choose to lead the nation will affect our lives for years to come.

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