Republicans don’t need to go nuclear on lower federal court nominations — the Democrats already did that.
Donald Trump moved fairly quickly in the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to fill the Scalia Seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The hearings have moved more slowly than many of us would have liked, but Mitch McConnell is promising an up or down vote by April 7, regardless of any attempts by Democrats to filibuster. Whether Republicans will exercise the Nuclear Option is a current media obsession.
Yet there is another aspect of the federal judiciary on which Trump can have a lasting legacy, the lower federal courts (appeals and district courts).
As previously mentioned, there are currently over 100 vacancies, and many more are likely to open up, Liberal nightmare: Trump could appoint half federal judiciary.
In mid-February The NY Times noted Trump’s opportunity, though the reaction from the Democratic base has been somewhat muted on that, perhaps because they are fixated on Gorsuch:
In the weeks since taking office, President Trump has derided court decisions as “ridiculous” and “disgraceful,” called the legitimacy of federal judges into question and encouraged people to blame the courts in the event of another terrorist attack.
But Mr. Trump could soon find himself responsible for appointing a greater share of federal court judges than any first-term president in 40 years, in large part because of a growing number of older judges and a stack of vacancies on the federal courts.
The lower courts matter tremendously, as was evidenced in the decisions freezing Trump’s immigration executive orders. The Times noted the stats:
While the lower courts attract a fraction of the public’s attention, they represent most of the federal docket. Only 15 percent of cases ever move past a district court judge to the circuit courts. Of these, only a tiny fraction make their way to the Supreme Court.
Even the Times scare-mongering about the role of the Federalist Society in helping Trump select nominees does not seem to have awakened the Democratic base:
Most Americans have probably never heard of Leonard A. Leo, who has long served as executive vice president of the Federalist Society, an organization of conservatives and libertarians who “place a premium on individual liberty, traditional values and the rule of law.” But as Mr. Trump begins the process of filling what could be the most federal court vacancies left to any president in nearly a half-century, Mr. Leo is playing a critical role in reshaping the judiciary.
He sits at the nexus of an immensely influential but largely unseen network of conservative organizations, donors and lawyers who all share a common goal: Fill the federal courts with scores of judges who are committed to the narrow interpretation of the Constitution that they believe the founders intended.
Democrats having removed the filibuster in 2013 for lower court nominations opened the door for Trump to fill these seats quickly, Dems’ Nuclear Option will allow Trump to fill over 100 court vacancies quickly.
Will Trump move quickly to fill these vacancies?
There were reports in February that candidates were being vetted for 5th Circuit openings.
Politico Playbook reports Trump currently is vetting candidates, particularly younger candidates:
The White House Counsel’s office is interviewing lawyers in their late 30s and early 40s for federal judgeships, sources familiar with the matter told us. It is a departure from the Obama administration, which mostly stuck to older, experienced legal professionals for judgeships. Republican presidents historically pick younger lawyers for judgeships compared to Democratic presidents. Placing younger candidates on the bench would ensure Trump’s influence on the federal court system for decades.
One veteran Republican lawyer familiar with the White House counsel’s efforts said that more younger people than usual are being considered for these jobs. Some are not “seasoned litigators,” but they are “very well qualified.” Another Republican legal-world source said the interview pool has included conservative law professors and U.S. attorneys in their late 30s. The White House declined to comment.
For Democrats, this is a matter of what goes around, comes around. Republicans don’t need to go nuclear on lower federal court nominations — the Democrats already did that.
There is nothing other than the Senate calendar and a few possibly recalcitrant Republican Senators standing between Trump and the judiciary of his choice.
When will the Dem base become woke? The day after Gorsuch is confirmed, when they realize the folly of Harry Reid’s ways.DONATE
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