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Paul Albaugh / Nov. 21, 2017

Trump's Justice League

The president's list of five possible Supreme Court picks is as impressive as we have now come to expect.

One of the reasons (for some, the only reason) that millions of people voted for Donald Trump just over a year ago was because he promised to choose people to fill judicial seats who were conservative originalists and would thus “support and defend” our Constitution. So far, he has delivered on that promise — and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.

Trump recently announced a list of five more candidates that he will consider for the next Supreme Court vacancy, and that list is very much in keeping with his promise. This is very troubling for leftists because Trump has already filled twice as many federal judiciary seats on the lower courts as his predecessor did by this point in his term.

“The new list of candidates for the high court includes Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a conservative stalwart on the high-profile U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit who clerked for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, and Judge Amy Barrett of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, an outspoken opponent of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion,” reports The Washington Times. “Rounding out the list are Judge Britt Grant of the Georgia Supreme Court, Judge Kevin Newsom of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Patrick Wyrick. Judge Grant previously clerked for Judge Kavanaugh on the appeals court.”

These individuals have been hailed by conservatives for having a fantastic track record of judicial experience and are each welcome additions to Trump’s list. Instead of being activists or despots, they are just the kind of constitutionalist judges we so very badly need today. Obviously, there are currently no vacancies on the High Court, but there has been speculation that extreme leftist Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and wild card Justice Anthony Kennedy are set to retire soon. Better not hold your breath on Ginsberg — she’ll probably hold out just to prevent Trump from replacing her with a conservative.

As for Justice Kennedy, however, National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru writes, “It is sometimes thought that Kennedy is more likely to retire if he thinks he will be replaced by someone of whom he thinks highly.” That person could be Kavanaugh, who is the most well-known on the new list of judicial candidates. As the Times notes, Kavanaugh also clerked for Kennedy and is thought of highly by his former boss. The only down side for Kavanaugh is that, at the age of 52, he is the oldest judge on the list.

Trump’s ability to shape the federal courts got a little easier as well following Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley’s decision to curtail one of the last legislative limits on a president’s power. Last week, Grassley, as head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, reined in a tradition that empowered senators to block federal appeals court nominees from their home state.

This move, referred to by members of the Senate as a “blue slip,” is sort of like an individual senator’s filibuster, and Democrats are now decrying its removal as a dirty tactic. Remember all the Democrat outcry when former Majority Leader Harry Reid abolished the filibuster for judicial nominees (except for SCOTUS) for the entire Senate? Neither do we.

On this, Grassley stated, “The Democrats seriously regret that they abolished the filibuster, as I warned them they would. But they can’t expect to use the blue-slip courtesy in its place. That’s not what the blue slip is meant for.”

Nevertheless, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is crying foul. “Taken together,” she complained, “it’s clear that Republicans want to remake our courts by jamming through President Trump’s nominees as quickly as possible.” She might, after all her years in the Senate, actually be correct, though she’s complaining about a feature, not a bug.

Aside from the courts, some say Trump has done a poor job filling other vacancies within the federal government. In this case, it’s not solely the Democrats’ fault for delaying Trump in filling these vacancies — rather, Trump has either not found willing and qualified individuals or he has just decided not to fill those positions. In fact, Trump insisted just last week that this was no accident, but rather that it was his way of shrinking certain agencies.

Trump stated, “I’m generally not going to make a lot of the appointments that would normally be — because you don’t need them. … I mean, you look at some of these agencies, how massive they are, and it’s totally unnecessary.” He is, of course, correct.

This is an additional tactic to drain the swamp in Washington and many conservatives agree with it. On the down side, there are many positions within the various federal agencies still held by people whom Barack Obama put there, and some are fill-ins until they are replaced.

By all indications Trump does not intend to fill or replace those positions, choosing instead to focus on his judicial nominees. This is, after all, what he said he would do and his ability to shape the federal courts may very well be his presidency’s longest lasting impact on our country.

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