Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images

The U.S. district judge's decision to block any potential Trump move against DACA while a court challenge is pending shows why Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have placed so much urgency on nominating as many conservatives as possible to the courts.

The big picture: As Congress becomes more dysfunctional, more power goes to the executive branch. The final person who can decide on these issues is a judge, whose term can outlast most elected politicians.

Leonard Leo made the point that it elevates the need for conservatives to care about the courts. As he told me in November:

"[McConnell's] thinking behind that is that the federal judiciary has an enormous impact on the future direction of our country in ways that many pieces of legislation and public policy initiatives don't."

Our thought bubble: This is arguably the most important achievement of the Trump presidency so far, and may have more important long-term impacts than the major tax bill. 

By the numbers: 

  • McConnell confirmed 12 circuit court judges for Trump in 2017
  • Barack Obama was able to confirm 3 in 2009
  • George W. Bush got 6 in 2001
  • Bill Clinton got 3 in 1993
  • George H.W. Bush got 5 in 1989
  • Ronald Reagan got 8 in 1981
  • Jimmy Carter got 10 in 1977

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Updated 15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 30,881,522 — Total deaths: 958,493— Total recoveries: 21,119,006Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 6,794,479 — Total deaths: 199,469 — Total recoveries: 2,590,671 — Total tests: 95,108,559Map.
  3. Politics: Testing czar on Trump's CDC contradictions: "Everybody is right" Ex-FDA chief: Career scientists won't be "easily cowed" by political vaccine pressure.
  4. Education: What we overlooked in the switch to remote learning.
  5. Health: The dwindling chances of eliminating COVID-19 — 7 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week.
  6. World: England sets £10,000 fine for breaking self-isolation rules — The countries painting their pandemic recoveries green.

Trump campaign goes all in on Pennsylvania

Trump poster in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

The president's campaign is placing more importance on Pennsylvania amid growing concern that his chances of clinching Wisconsin are slipping, Trump campaign sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Pennsylvania, which has 20 electoral votes, twice Wisconsin's number, actually has been trending higher in recent public and internal polling, a welcome development for the campaign.

Inside Biden's Supreme Court strategy

Joe Biden enters the hall at the National Constitution Center. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Joe Biden’s closing argument will shift to a dominant emphasis on health care, turning the looming Supreme Court fight into a referendum on coverage and pre-existing conditions, officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: Biden aides believed they were winning when the race was about the coronavirus pandemic. Now they plan to use the Supreme Court opening as a raucous new field for a health care fight, returning to a theme that gave Democrats big midterm wins in 2018.