Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell’s long march towards remaking the federal judiciary is moving along.

Just this week, the Third Circuit “flipped” to majority Republican-appointees, the Second Circuit is on the brink of flipping, and several other evenly split Circuits are likely to go Republican.

Ed Whelan summarizes:

As anticipated last fall when Judge Thomas Vanaskie announced his decision to take senior status, the Senate’s confirmation earlier this week of Peter Phipps to Vanaskie’s vacancy means that the Third Circuit will have a majority of its judges in active service—eight of fourteen—who were appointed by Republican presidents.

At the outset of the Trump administration, the Third Circuit had seven Democratic appointees, five Republican appointees, and two vacancies. Upon Phipps’s taking his seat, it will become the first federal court of appeals that President Trump will have flipped from a majority of Democratic appointees to a majority of Republican appointees.

The Second Circuit will flip to a majority of Republican appointees if and when the White House fills the two existing vacancies. The Eleventh Circuit has moved from a large Democratic-appointee majority (8-3, with one vacancy) to a 6-6 tie. (The Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Circuits had majorities of Republican appointees at the outset of the Trump administration and have expanded the margins.)

By the numbers overall (including Phipps), Trump has nominated and had confirmed:

Supreme Court: 2

Courts of Appeals: 43

District/Specialty Courts: 85

Trump is running out of Court of Appeals vacancies to fill, in part a result of his focus on filling those critical slots:

Current and known future vacancies: 141

Courts of Appeals: 6

District/Specialty Courts*: 135

Pending nominees for current and known future vacancies: 58

Courts of Appeals: 2

District/Specialty Courts*: 56

As pointed out here repeatedly since Trump’s inauguration, Democrats have been so focused on impeaching, attacking and maligning Trump, that they have not really appreciated what is happening:

Trump has the opportunity to reshape the federal judiciary at every level.

This is a theme I’ve writing about since before Trump was inaugurated, Dems’ Nuclear Option will allow Trump to fill over 100 court vacancies quickly (December 26, 2016), and Liberal nightmare: Trump could appoint half federal judiciary (January 18, 2017).

I’ve also focused on how the furious news cycles have distracted just about everyone from Trump’s judicial progress, While you were focused on COMEY, Trump nominated another group of CONSERVATIVE Judges and Republicans continue reshaping federal judiciary, though you probably are focused on Democrat anti-Semitism.

Do you know where things stand now? Of course not, you’ve been focused on Democrat histrionics about Mueller and Barr and just about everything else.

Charles Pierce at Esquire understands what is happening, and he is fuming. Pierce writes about how The Conservative Effort to Salt the Judiciary With Larval Scalias Is Close to Complete:

While everyone was looking elsewhere, and wondering about their immigration status in the lands of their ancestors, the administration* and Mitch McConnell had their white-guys judicial assembly line humming….

The conservative effort to salt the federal judiciary with larval Scalias is devastatingly close to completion. Make no mistake, This would have happened if any of the Republican candidates had been elected in 2016. It may be the only thing keeping a lot of Republicans on the Trump Train. You are going to be hearing from both these guys long after the president* is spinning on a spit in hell. Depend on that.

“Larval Scalias”? Let’s hope so, but as we’ve seen so many times, Republican-appointee does not equal conservative, and conservative at the start does not mean conservative forever.

But you’ve got to start somewhere, and “larval Scalias” is not a bad place to start.


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