Nominees Enter Trump's Courts With Praise
There may be some drama with the president’s own staff, but Republicans have plenty of good things to say about his other hires: a popular slate of judges to the federal bench. As the health care debate unfolded on Capitol Hill, President Trump was simultaneously working to fulfill another promise — restoring order to the activist courts.
And so far, the new president is breaking all kinds of records to accomplish it, moving at a “breakneck pace” to fill dozens of key judicial vacancies. Outpacing even Barack Obama, Trump’s moves weren’t so much under the radar as underreported by a media consumed by the Senate soap opera. Now that the GOP is taking time to regroup on health care, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is hoping to pick up steam on court appointments that many believe will be Trump’s most important contribution.
If anyone understands the significance of that, it’s Democrats. “This will be the single most important legacy of the Trump administration,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) told Business Insider. “[The Senate majority] will quickly be able to put judges on circuit courts all over the country, district courts all over the country that will — given the [nominees’] youth and conservatism — have a significant impact on the shape and trajectory of American law for decades.” For conservatives, who are still reeling from the setback on the repeal of Obamacare, which they weren’t expecting, judicial appointments may be exactly the momentum the party needs to get back in voters’ good graces. After all, Coons explains, this deserves America’s attention “given … the significance of what will eventually be a wholesale change among the federal judiciary.”
Calling his progress “staggering,” court watchers say the number of nominees for “vacant U.S. attorney positions, a crucial area, is dwarfing that of the past administration this early on.” Although Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch was the biggest prize, Trump’s “judges-first” mentality has the potential to shift issues before they ever reach the high court. By July, a half-year into the president’s term, Trump had nominated “18 people for district judgeship vacancies, 14 for circuit courts and the Court of Federal Claims, and 23 for U.S. attorney slots. During that same timeframe in President Barack Obama’s first term, Obama had nominated just four district judges, five appeals court judges, and 13 US attorneys. In total, Trump nominated 55 people, and Obama just 22,” Allan Smith points out. Even more interesting, 45 are from (or nominated for seats) in states that Donald Trump won in the November election.
One thing’s for sure: The White House is keeping the Senate hopping. Still in session for two more weeks, McConnell’s chamber had hoped the overtime would help the GOP deliver wins on originalists like Kevin Newsom, an Alabama appeals court nominee. With 136 “help wanted” signs hanging over the federal bench, Republicans looked forward to at least some cooperation from Democrats — only to face a barrage of stalling tactics and procedural games. In the tradition of the Senate, the Judiciary Committee won’t move a nominee unless both home state senators send back the blue slip of approval.
Not surprisingly, Senate Democrats have had more than their share of my-dog-ate-my-blue-slip excuses. Moving at a glacial pace, they’ve only confirmed three of Trump’s nominees to the federal bench. But Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley’s (R-IA) patience is wearing thin. If the obstruction doesn’t stop, Grassley says the GOP will move on — with or without the Democrats’ consent. Like us, the Left knows the stakes. As Heritage Foundation’s John Malcolm explains, “Who the judges are in these lower courts have a significant impact on the direction of the law. I mean, the federal courts of appeals hear about 50,000 cases a year. The Supreme Court only hears about 75 cases a year. And they tend to take cases in which there is a split in the circuit, and if all of the circuits are ideologically aligned, you’re going to have fewer of those splits.”
After a July of bitter disappointments on the health care front, Senate Republicans have a rare opportunity to redeem themselves before leaving for an abbreviated recess. Thanks to Trump’s commitment on judges, they may not be going home entirely empty-handed.
Originally published here.
Rex Marks the Spot on Genocide
Under Barack Obama, a terrorist probably had an easier time getting into America than a Syrian Christian! This “has got to change,” Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) argued in a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee. And thanks to President Trump, it is.
In just six short months, the number of Christian refugees resettling in the U.S. is soaring. After years of discriminating against a population that poses the smallest risk to America, President Obama’s pattern of prejudice is finally falling by the wayside. CNSNews reports that there’s been a massive sea change in the policy under Trump, who is determined to let persecuted minorities into the country — with enough safeguards to keep radical Islamists from gaming the system.
So far, his system seems to be working. Christians and other non-Muslims are no longer getting the short end of the refugee stick under Trump. “In February, Trump’s first full month in office, the Christian-Muslim ratio was 41 percent to 50 percent. By April the balance had changed, with 54 percent Christians to 35 percent Muslims. In July, the margin of difference was even larger — 62 percent Christians compared to 34 percent Muslims.” After years of being stuck at the back of the line, Christians are finally getting the relief they deserve. And with Gov. Sam Brownback tapped to take the Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom job, the good news for our suffering brothers and sisters is just beginning.
Unfortunately for the president, this progress had been clouded by rumors that the Trump administration was dropping the “genocide” designation for ISIS’s treatment of Christians and Yazidis in Iraq and Syria. Turns out, that’s exactly what they were: rumors. Republicans Marco Rubio (FL), James Lankford (OK), Roy Blunt (MO), Ben Sasse (NE), Cory Gardner (CO), and John Cornyn (TX) had written to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asking for an explanation.
Next week marks three years since the Islamic State waged a brutal offensive in Iraq, laying siege to Mt. Sinjar and overtaking Iraq’s largest Christian city, Qaraqosh, and murdering, enslaving, displacing and otherwise terrorizing thousands of religious minorities whose community’s roots in these lands go back to antiquity. The full measure of human suffering exacted against these innocents is incalculable.
As we approach this solemn anniversary, and with it persistent questions regarding the long-term viability of these ancient communities, it is vital that we have clarity regarding the policy of this administration, specifically as it relates to the most egregious of all human rights atrocities, genocide.
Tillerson’s office wasted no time setting the record straight. “I can tell you that that is categorically false,” fired back State Department Press Secretary Heather Nauert. “We have looked through documents ourselves. The word ‘genocide’ is in fact in there. That has not been removed.” Nor should it be. Everyone from Hillary Clinton to John Kerry agreed that terrorist and terrorist-supporting countries should be held accountable for targeting religious groups. “When we look at Iraq and we look at what has happened to some of the Yazidis, some of the Christians… Secretary [Tillerson] believes, and he firmly believes, that that was genocide.” It was an important clarification from Tillerson, who is a major figure in restoring America’s reputation as a voice for the vulnerable.
For Americans, who’ve spent the better part of the decade watching Barack Obama roll out the welcome mat to everyone but religious minorities, the Trump administration is a breath of fresh air. We look forward to seeing what’s next for the president who’s eager not only to put a spotlight on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East but to do something about it.
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.