Judiciary

Ninth Circuit: Another Court Vacancy for Trump

If Trump continues apace, his record on the courts alone would be reason to count his presidency a success.

Nate Jackson · Dec. 19, 2017

Judge Alex Kozinski, 32-year stalwart of the powerful Ninth Circuit Court, announced Monday that he is retiring “effective immediately” after at least 15 women have accused him of everything from showing them pornography to inappropriate sexual comments to groping them. The 67-year-old Kozinski sort of defended himself, saying, “I treat all of my employees as family and work very closely with most of them. I would never intentionally do anything to offend anyone and it is regrettable that a handful have been offended by something I may have said or done.” Well that’s open-ended. Kozinski lamented his “unusual sense of humor” may have been offensive, and he declared his resignation because “I cannot be an effective judge and simultaneously fight this battle.”

Unfortunately for conservatives, the Romanian-born Kozinski, a Ronald Reagan appointee, was a self-described libertarian and “refugee from Communism” who faithfully upheld his oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. That — not yet another man accused of sexual misconduct — is the point of this story.

The Ninth Circuit as a whole is far too leftist, and Kozinski’s loss is a blow. That said, President Donald Trump will appoint his successor, and he has a fairly remarkable record on judicial appointments already. So far in his first year, Trump has had a total of 19 federal judges confirmed, including 12 circuit court judges and, of course, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. There are another 41 nominees pending to fill a portion of the 142 vacancies on the federal bench. If Trump continues apace, his record on the courts alone would be reason to count his presidency a success.

Yet there’s a huge caveat. As the Cato Institute’s Josh Blackman argues, “If the Democrats take the Senate in 2018 — which became more likely after the recent election in Alabama — I fully expect Chairman Dianne Feinstein to deny hearings to virtually all of President Trump’s judicial nominees.” Thus Republicans holding the Senate becomes all the more important.

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