By Jon Dougherty
(TNS) One of conservatives’ biggest questions about Donald Trump heading into the 2016 elections was whether he would actually appoint constitutionalists to the federal judiciary and Supreme Court.
In order to quell those concerns, then-GOP candidate Trump released a list of bona fide constitutionalist jurists he promised to nominate if he won.
The president has kept that promise and has delivered in spades, thanks in no small part to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who did away with the archaic and outdated 60-vote majority to approve a president’s federal court picks after Trump-deranged Democrats proved they were willing to blow up decades of precedence and oppose every one of his nominees, no matter what.
As the 2020 elections approach, the president’s reelection looks certain, as evidenced by the Garbage Party’s willingness to tank Bernie’s chances of winning their nomination again in favor of propping Joe Biden up so he’ll have a better story to tell his great grandkids someday.
But it’s looking like the GOP will have a fight on its hands to keep the Senate. Some Republican ‘moderates’ look vulnerable, according to recent polling, meaning the Democrats have a real chance (according to some analysts) to retake the upper chamber.
And if they keep the House, they’ll not only thwart Trump’s legislative agenda for at least two more years (thereby cheating the country out of any progress on issues like healthcare, infrastructure, trade, etc.) they’ll be able to block every one of his federal court nominees.
That includes Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s likely vacancy; we could see her retiring if she knew her seat wouldn’t be filled by a constitutionalist.
As Fox News reports, Trump and Senate Republicans have gone a long way towards remaking the federal judiciary, and there’s no reason to expect that progress would not be made in the president’s second term if he has the opportunity:
The Supreme Court gets the most attention, but it only rules on about one-tenth of one percent of all appeals court cases, so the final appeals courts (called circuit courts) almost always get the last word.
During the Trump administration, three federal appellate courts have “flipped” from being majority Democratic-appointed to being majority Republican-appointed. The flipped courts (the 2nd, 3rd, and 11th circuits) have jurisdiction over many populous eastern states: Florida, Georgia, Alabama, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, and Delaware.
More than a quarter of all federal appeals court judges have now been appointed by Trump.
The 9th Circuit, which has jurisdiction over California and many other western states, has long been known for left-wing legal decisions. When Trump became president, the balance on the court was 18 Democratic-appointed judges to just 7 Republican-appointed ones.
But after Trump’s appointees filled the court, the balance is now a much more even 16 to 13, still with a majority of Democrats.
As the court has become more balanced, its rulings have changed as well.
In July 2018, the court issued a surprise ruling striking down a California ban on firearm magazines capable of holding 10 bullets or more.
In June 2019, it allowed the Trump administration to withdraw federal funding from any medical facility that provides abortions or offers abortion referrals.
In July 2019, it allowed the administration to direct community policing grants to cities that are not “sanctuary cities.”
Legal experts say more is down the road.
“What’s happened so far is a very small part of what’s to come,” John O. McGinnis, professor of constitutional law at Northwestern University, told Fox News.
“The biggest thing is that these judges will create a cultural change in the legal profession… lawyers, law schools… will study their decisions and that will shift their thinking… toward interpreting the original meaning of the Constitution,” he continued — like federal judges are supposed to do (and didn’t Chief Justice John Roberts claim that federal judges aren’t ‘political’?).
“They are better-credentialled than usual,” McGinnis said. “This is acknowledged even by people who don’t like the Trump judges.”
In other words, they’re not academics and Left-wing activists.
Even Left-wing Vox had to declare it so.
“Based solely on objective legal credentials, the average Trump appointee has a far more impressive résumé than any past president’s nominees,” the site reported.
“Approximately 40 percent of Trump’s appellate nominees clerked for a Supreme Court justice, and about 80 percent clerked on a federal court of appeals. That compares to less than a quarter of Obama’s nominees who clerked on the Supreme Court, and less than half with a federal appellate clerkship,” the site added.
And let’s recall, Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Elena Kagan, was a law school professor, never a judge.
“In these appointees, we see some very strong judges who are likely to be more influential than average,” McGinnis noted.
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