"Decades of Progress Are at Stake" as Trump Reaches 150 Lifetime Judicial Appointments and Right-Wing Court Takeover Accelerates

September 13th 2019

 
Donald J. Trump at Marriott Marquis NYC September 7th 2016 ( Michael Vadon )

Donald J. Trump at Marriott Marquis NYC September 7th 2016 (Michael Vadon)

By Jake Johnson

Common Dreams

The Republican-controlled Senate quietly confirmed four more of President Donald Trump's lifetime federal judicial nominees on Wednesday, bringing the total number of conservative judges successfully appointed by the administration to over 150.

It is a milestone that, according to rights groups, marks the extent to which Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have flooded the nation's courts with disproportionately young and unqualified right-wing judges who could reshape the judiciary for decades to come.

"Every network should be covering this," tweeted the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. "Trump's dangerous takeover of our courts will last a generation. All who care about our civil rights being protected must speak out and demand better."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, reacted gleefully on Wednesday to the president's achievement, calling the appointment of over 150 federal judges "historic."

"These conservative judicial appointments will impact our nation for years to come," said Graham.

Bloomberg Law reported Wednesday that 19 of Trump's lifetime judicial nominees are awaiting votes and more judges are making their way through the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

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"Many have disturbing civil rights records," Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference, said of the judges the Senate has confirmed thus far. "Dozens wouldn't affirm Brown v. Board. They're overwhelmingly white and male. Decades of progress are at stake. We must keep fighting."

While the Senate's latest torrent of votes on Trump judges drew relatively little coverage from the national media, more than 150 people gathered inside the Senate building on Wednesday to condemn the president's court takeover.

The demonstration largely focused on Steven Menashi, Trump's nominee for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Menashi's confirmation hearing on Wednesdasy, which came just two days after his name was submitted to the Senate, was repeatedly interrupted by loud shouts from the Senate hallways.

HuffPost reported Tuesday that Menashi, currently a White House legal aide, is one of Trump's "most controversial judicial nominees to date... with a long record of opposing and undermining equality for communities of color, women, and LGBTQ people."

"His civil rights record is terrible," Gupta said of Menashi. "If confirmed, he'd sit in Thurgood Marshall's former seat and preside in the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse. He must be stopped."

A coalition of progressive advocacy groups on Tuesday delivered 110,000 petition signatures demanding that the Senate reject Menashi, who repeatedly declined to answer basic questions during his confirmation hearing, angering both Democrats and Republicans.

"Menashi has stripped protections for sexual assault survivors, advocated for ethnonationalism, and helped Trump and Stephen Miller with their anti-immigrant agenda," Christopher Kang, chief counsel at Demand Justice, said in a statement. "It's not enough to simply oppose a nominee like this—Democrats must join us in sounding the alarm and not allowing Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham to push this nomination through under the radar."

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