Senate Republicans have confirmed 89 Trump-nominated judges, far in excess of appointments under Obama and Bush
Many Americans watching the turmoil in US institutions and political norms are yearning for the day when Donald Trump is no longer president. But whether he leaves after 2020 or 2024, Trump has built a legacy in one vital area that can be expected to stand for decades, long after his Twitter feed has fallen silent, analysts across the political spectrum agree.
That legacy comprises the 89 judges, and rapidly counting, that Trump has nominated, and Senate Republicans have confirmed, to serve at all levels of the federal court system. They are taking up posts from the district courts (53 Trump nominees confirmed out of 677 total) to the appellate courts (34 out of 179) to the US supreme court (two out of nine). Put together they form a kind of conservative judicial revolution that could impact all aspects of American life.
In the past week, Trumps judges tally notched up by three, with the confirmation to appeals courts of Chad Readler, who previously ran the legal effort to dismantle Barack Obamas healthcare law; Eric Murphy, who undermined voting rights, marriage equality and reproductive rights as a state solicitor in Ohio; and Allison Jones Rushing, who has past ties to an anti-LGBT group and who at 37 years old is the countrys youngest federal judge, a lifetime appointment.
As with previous Trump nominees, Readler, Murphy and Rushing were confirmed over the impassioned protests of progressive groups who warned the judges were out of step with the country on crucial issues including immigration, abortion, climate change, LGBT rights, healthcare, voting rights and more.
The overarching concern, said Daniel L Goldberg, the legal director at the Alliance For Justice, is that Trumps judges will now shape American life according to the narrow conservative vision of the elite, predominantly white and male groups guiding Trumps hand as he makes his picks a vision that is divergent not only from the political left but also from the center.
I dont think most Americans realize, long after Donald Trump and his repeated attacks on the rule of law on the independent judiciary and our constitutional rights long after Donald Trump has left the scene, his judges will still be interpreting the constitution and our laws for the next two, three, four decades, Goldberg said.
And for millions of Americans, who rely every day on critical protections for workers, for clean air and water, for healthcare, for critical rights for women and LGBTQ Americans, theres going to be an attack coming from our courts on some of our most precious rights and legal protections.
The Trump judge-confirming machine has arguably been run better than anything else in his administration perhaps because he has had relatively little to do with it. Unlike past presidents, Trump has turned the job of picking nominees over, almost wholly, to the White House counsels office, which in turn has worked from lists drawn up by the Federalist Society, the countrys premier network of conservative lawyers.
The Republican Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has done his part by clearing long-standing hurdles in the nominating process, including one by which home-state senators from either party could veto an undesirable pick. On Wednesday, Politico reported that McConnell planned to go further, by ending a rule requiring 30 hours of debate on each judicial nominee.
This is a Republican hijacking of the third branch of government, said Brian Fallon, the executive director of Demand Justice, in reaction to the news. [McConnell] will be setting a new precedent that it is OK to change the Senate rules in order to get more of your preferred judges onto the federal bench.
Republicans would argue that Democrats changed the rules first. In any case, the current state of play has worked well for Trump, who has succeeded in confirming 24 judges to appellate courts during the first two years of his term, about 50% more than Obama (15) and George W Bush (16), and a third more than Bill Clinton (18), George HW Bush (18) and Ronald Reagan (19).
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