President Donald Trump has an outstanding opportunity to reshape the federal judiciary.
Trump filed an uncommon, inherited vacancy on the Supreme Court, and his assistants are now working to place candidates in the openings on lower federal courts.
Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is one example of the kind influence Trump wants to have on the federal judiciary.
Selecting Gorsuch has re-established the 5-4 conservative advantage on the Supreme Court, and the 49-year-old justice has voted on right leaning opinion on matters such as Trump’s travel ban, gun rights and the separation of church and state.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell confirmed the selection of Neil Gorsuch.
McConnell’s decision was part of a longer-term Republican tactic to reshape the judiciary. After gaining control of the Senate in 2015, Republicans obstructed the progress of Obama’s nominations for the lower courts, influencing the large backlog of vacancies on trial and intermediate-appellate courts inherited by Trump.
In 2016 presidential campaign, Trump stated that he would “appoint judges very much in the mold of Justice (Antonin) Scalia,” a loyal conservative who passed away in February 2016.
“If you really like Donald Trump, that’s great, but if you don’t, you have to vote for me anyway,” he stated at a assembly in Iowa last July. “You know why? Supreme Court judges, Supreme Court judges.”
As a candidate, Trump got suggestions from two establishment conservative groups, the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society, to compile a list of 21 potential Supreme Court nominees.
On that list was Gorsuch. Now Trump is trusting the list to select candidates for vacancies on the lower courts. The president nominated Allison Eid to fill the vacancy created by Gorsuch’s departure from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver.
Conservatives were satisfied with Eid’s selection in June, and with the other nominations of 10 other lawyers, judges and scholars.
“It’s a fantastic list,” Carrie Severino, chief counsel of the right-leaning Judicial Crisis Network, wrote in a post on the National Review’s Bench Memos blog. “Many of the nominees are well known in the conservative legal movement.”
On the other hand, liberal don’t seem to happy about Trump’s roster of nominees.
“The whole situation is worrisome,” stated Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice in Washington, D.C. “We’re seeing nominees, including Gorsuch, who are going to turn back the clock on hard-fought rights and liberties.”
Aron said that the prospect of a federal judiciary shaped by Trump “is all the more critical now because the courts are the only institution that are (sic) providing a check against the administration’s more extreme policies.”
Rumors arose in Washington lately about the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, soon to turn 81. With his retirement Trump would have another vital vacancy to fill. Kennedy’s critical role in securing several 5-4 victories for liberals, this could mean that Trump will have the most important nomination as a president.
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