Facebook Slider


Optional Member Code
Get News Alerts!
Wednesday, 11 October 2017 06:09

Under the Radar, Trump Is Still Packing the Federal Judiciary With Right-Wingers

  • font size decrease font size decrease font size increase font size increase font size
  • Print
  • Email


supremecourtusIt's not just the Supreme Court, it's the entire federal bench that is under Trump attack. (Mitchell Shapiro Photography)

Commentaries like this are published thanks to the generous support of our readers. Help ensure Truthout and BuzzFlash can keep publishing: Sign up today to make a small donation each month and keep independent news alive!

On October 7, HuffPost reported the advancement of Donald Trump's appointees to the Federal Bench:

Thursday was a good day for Amy Coney Barrett. A Senate committee voted to advance her nomination to be a federal judge.

It wasn’t a pretty vote. Every Democrat on the Judiciary Committee opposed her nomination. They scrutinized her past writings on abortion, which include her questioning the precedent of Roe v. Wade and condemning the birth control benefit underthe Affordable Care Act as“a grave infringement on religious liberty.” One Democrat, Al Franken (Minn.), called her out for taking a speaking fee from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit that’s defended forced sterilization for transgender people and has been dubbed a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

But Republicans don’t need Democrats’ votes, and now Barrett, a 45-year-old law professor at the University of Notre Dame, is all but certain to be confirmed to a lifetime post on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit — a court one level below the Supreme Court.

Barrett is the model judicial candidate for this White House: young, conservative, and opposed to abortion and LGBTQ rights.

And there were more horrifying new judges coming down the pipeline, as HuffPost noted:

Consider John Bush. The Senate confirmed him in July, on a party-line vote, to a lifetime post on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Bush, 52, has compared abortion to slavery and referred to them as “the two greatest tragedies in our country.” He has also said he strongly disagrees with same-sex marriage, mocked climate change and proclaimed “the witch is dead” when he thought the Affordable Care Act might not be enacted.

The Senate also confirmed Kevin Newsom, 44, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in August. He wrote a 2000 law review article equating the rationale of Roe v. Wade to Dred Scott v. Sandford, the 1857 decision upholding slavery.

Business Insider reminds us that these appointments are not just temporary; they're for life:

On the federal bench, virtually all the vacancies Trump has been rushing to fill are lifetime appointments.

"This will be the single most important legacy of the Trump administration," Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Business Insider. "They will quickly be able to put judges on circuit courts all over the country, district courts all over the country, that will, given their youth and conservatism, will have a significant impact on the shape and trajectory of American law for decades.

"Trump is moving at a breakneck pace" in nominating judges, according to Business Insider.

In August, The Daily Signal reported,

President Donald Trump has moved quickly in trying to fill federal court vacancies, outpacing his immediate predecessors during the first 200 days in office in circuit and district court appointments.

To date, Trump has nominated 44 federal judges and scored eight confirmations, including Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Eleven of the president’s nominations are to circuit courts and 23 are to district courts. The nine others are to specialty courts such as the Court of Claims, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and the U.S. Tax Court.

In short, the Trump administration is moving at a rapid pace to install judges who are inclined to end abortion, roll back laws that protect marginalized Americans, and rule against measures that would reduce climate change, among other destructive actions. Trump has had a clear path for his objectionable nominees, because they are supported by the Republicans in the Senate. Furthermore, under the Democrats during the Obama administration, Senate rules were changed so that only 51 votes are now needed for federal judges to be confirmed. Given that the GOP controls the Senate, the judges Trump nominates are extremely likely to be the ones that will be seated.

This is a profoundly destructive leveling of social, economic and personal justice that flies below the radar because the courts are not widely covered by the media on a daily basis. Even many of their larger decisions have a short media shelf -- though they impact society in a long-lasting way.

Last month, I wrote that "under the radar, Trump is packing the federal judiciary with right-wingers," and he continues to do so unabated. When it comes to the judiciary, the Republicans appear to be playing the long game, while the Democrats try to make tenuous deals with Trump. The GOP knows that the "lifers" appointed to the federal bench will have a longer-term impact on the ongoing shaping of the law than Trump will. In fact, one established GOP strategy is to pick younger nominees, so they will serve on the bench for many years.

Compare the fate of Merrick Garland, who never even got a committee hearing, to the fast-tracking of Trump nominees to all levels of the bench. Republicans have a long-term plan for the judiciary, and it will have a pernicious impact on this country for decades -- if not generations -- to come.