Winning in the Courts for Generations to Come
It's not just the Supreme Court but the whole federal judiciary that Trump is influencing.
Eighty-four judges have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate after nomination by President Donald Trump in his tenure of less than two years. Two successful appointments to the Supreme Court have been the center of public attention, yet these other federal appointments will serve to protect the Constitution’s role in the American justice system. These originalist judges will stem the tide of legislating from the bench as practiced by leftists when their radical candidates or policies are unsuccessful at the ballot box.
In the United States, there are 94 federal judicial districts that span the nation and its territories — districts that were created by the first Congress, not by the Constitution, which established the Supreme Court of the United States in Article III. In addition to these federal districts, circuit or appellate courts exist for the purpose of appeals within the 12 regional circuits and one U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit with national jurisdiction.
As one would imagine, the number of judgeships to serve in these courts is quite large. Including all the various jurisdictions and levels, there are over 800 positions within the federal judiciary that receive appointments. President Trump walked into his role as the 45th president with 88 district and 17 court of appeals vacancies. To date, Trump has appointed two Supreme Court justices, 29 Circuit Court judges and 53 District Court judges, even as more openings occur with normal churn. In less than two years, Trump has made about a fourth of the number of federal appointments as his immediate predecessor, Barack Obama, throughout his eight-year tenure.
Just like so many other of Trump’s promises made on the campaign trail, he is keeping his word to appoint originalists.
Americans have been overwhelmed with the wall-to-wall coverage of the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process-turned-clown show. Unquestionably, the Supreme Court is powerful and does serve as the final point of remedy and decision for landmark rulings that are culturally critical, like abortion and same-sex marriage. But there are about 7,000 petitions set to appear before America’s High Court annually, and the number to receive hearings ranges from 100 to 150. Obviously, the decisions of the lower federal courts are, by the clear math, most likely to stand. That gives inherent value to the approach to the bench by this mass of judges. Either they employ judicial activism or judicial restraint while viewing the Constitution as either “living” as Democrats demand or as constructed to be interpreted.
President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have had their frustrations in dealing with Senate rules and procedures, namely the filibuster, to pass key legislation. Democrats, however, paved the way for federal judicial appointments by changing the rules in 2013 to confirmation by a simple majority for all but Supreme Court nominations, under the wrong assumption that they would hold the Senate majority throughout the remainder of Barack Obama’s tenure. They were also eyeing the possible retirements of Supreme Court justices, namely Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the elder of the court at 85 years of age. But the Democrat move backfired when they attempted to filibuster Neil Gorsuch and McConnell finished the job by eliminating the filibuster for judicial nominations entirely.
The unlikely team of Trump and McConnell, neither pillars of the conservative movement, are working in tandem to leave an indelible mark on the federal court system by appointing younger originalists who will aid in returning the judiciary to its role of justice, not legislation.
The very evening that Justice Kavanaugh and his family participated in the ceremonial swearing-in administered by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy in primetime following a presidential apology for the personal attacks and ambush-style tactics of Senate Democrats, Trump announced another wave of judicial nominees that included two for the Second Circuit (which includes New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire) and three for the Ninth Circuit without the customary input from the region’s sitting senators, namely Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary.
The supposed Blue Wave of political upheaval that was predicted to return the Senate to a Democrat majority appeared to evaporate after the storm of misbehavior confirming Kavanaugh. If Trump maintains this pace of confirmations, coupled with his reelection, he will leave, as part of his presidential legacy, a correction to the courts.