Trump’s success in stuffing the liberal 9th circuit court of appeals full of conservatives is remaking the court for decades to come.
One of the longest-lasting impacts a President of the United States can have centers on his success in appointing judges to courts across the country. While a President serves between 4-8 years, a judge can sit on the bench for decades. So it comes as no surprise that President Donald Trump has focused his attention on this legacy project – remaking the courts in the most conservative fashion possible.
While what may be fact of fiction in politics is up for debate, what is indisputable is Trump’s resounding success in appointing judges. In fact, no President has secured so many important judgeships so quickly, and progressives say the damage will be lasting.
Take a look at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a long-time bastion of liberalism in the federal judiciary. In December 2019, the Senate confirmed appointees Lawrence VanDyke and Patrick Bumatay, bringing the total number of Trump appointees to the 29-member bench to 9. At the beginning of Trump’s presidency, Democratic-appointed judges held an 11-seat majority, compared with only a three-seat majority today.
This represents a major shift in the liberal wing of the judiciary, meaning that lawsuits for progressive causes will find less sympathy than in the past. The court has been a “go-to” destination for left-leaning Western states seeking to challenge Trump on policy issues related to health care, immigration, and other social issues. For example, the court ruled against multiple versions of Trump’s travel ban as well as against Trump’s weakening of Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate.
The court, based in San Francisco, has also been ground zero of California’s Trump resistance and the primary vehicle through which to pursue progress in areas like reproductive rights and LGBTQ issues.
The importance of judgeships cannot be understated. With Congress is near constant gridlock, laws interpreted by the courts are often the only way to change policies. Transforming the judiciary to make it more sympathetic to the conservative agenda could be one of the victories that will far outlast Trump’s time in office.
Conservatives are naturally thrilled with the shift, believing their agenda will finally receive a fair shake in the country’s judiciary. For them, Trump stuffing the Ninth Circuit full of conservatives is only the latest example of great work by the President, who is eager to rack up policy wins before the 2020 election.
In addition to federal judgeships, these policy victories include a partial resolution of the trade war with China, a re-negotiated NAFTA deal with Canada and Mexico, the funding of a new Space Force for galactic supremacy, a record-high stock market, and a bustling economy.
Perhaps Trump’s greatest personal achievement will be that his legacy will surely live on through the judges he appoints to courts across the land, including the Ninth Court. Some celebrate this turn of events, other bemoan the damage to their cause.
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The Senate confirmation of Lawrence VanDyke and Patrick Bumatay to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this month brought to nine the number of appointments President Donald Trump has made to the 29-member bench that serves as the last stop for nearly all legal complaints lodged in nine Western states.
Judges Lawrence VanDyke and Patrick Bumatay, who are both in their 40s, will serve lifetime appointments. Their ascent to the bench means that Trump appointees now account for more than a third of the active judges on the very same court that the president has repeatedly attacked as being adversarial to his agenda.
The legacy is a judiciary remade deeply conservative in Trump’s own image. In securing the confirmation of his 50th appeals court judge earlier this month, Trump cemented his status as the most accomplished sponsor of federal judges in the modern history of the presidency.