Dec 22, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Trump and McConnell continue to transform the federal judiciary

Trump and McConnell

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

After three years in office, President Trump and the Republican-held Senate have installed a total of 187 judges to the federal bench, with Trump nominees now making up one in four U.S. circuit court judges, according to an analysis by the Washington Post.

Why it matters: Trump's transformation of the federal judiciary will ensure that it maintains a conservative tilt for decades, likely affecting future progressive legislation and priorities no matter the outcome of next November’s election.

By the numbers: Trump has so far appointed two Supreme Court justices and 50 judges on the 13 U.S. circuit courts. By comparison, Obama appointed two Supreme Court justices and 55 circuit judges during the entirety of his two terms.

  • Trump has also flipped three circuit courts to majority GOP-appointed judges, including the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York.

Between the lines: The president and Senate Republicans selected younger conservatives for lifetime appointments to ensure that their impact is felt years after the Trump administration, according to the Washington Post.

Of note: While the House voted to impeach the president last week, the Senate confirmed an additional 13 district court judges.

What's next: Trump and Senate Republicans have only one circuit court vacancy left to fill this year. More could open up next year, and there will certainly be vacancies in Trump's second term if he wins in November.

  • There's also a strong chance of openings on the Supreme Court in the next presidential term. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, is 86 years old, while Justice Stephen Breyer, another Clinton pick, is 81.

Go deeper: Senate confirms controversial Trump nominee Steven Menashi to appeals court

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