Obama may have lost his battle to appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, but analysts say he has still reshaped the federal courts for decades to come.
Once again, President Barack Obama is breaking records… by appointing a record number of women and minorities to lifetime judgeships. Of the nearly 340 judges nominated and confirmed by the Senate, 42 percent are women, 19 percent are black, and 11 percent are Hispanic, equating to more female and minority appointees than any other president before him.
During his presidency, Obama converted 9 of the 13 key federal appeals courts into majority-Democrat courts, of which there was only one when he first took office.
In yet another record, he also appointed at least 11 federal judges who are openly gay.
It was this court that ruled in favor of a transgender student seeking to use high school bathroom facilities matching the student’s gender identity rather than biological gender. Two of the judges were appointed by Obama, and the third by George Bush.
Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director at the Judicial Crisis Network, says of Obama’s four nominees for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia: “His picks were undeniably very liberal, very friendly to his approach toward the administrative state, particularly in an administration that was trying to find ways of doing business that didn’t involve having to get the approval of the elected branch. He used the administrative state very aggressively, and I think that was why the D.C. Circuit was such a big priority for him.”
Hans von Spakovsky, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, had this to say about Obama: “[He] has appointed some of the most liberal, ideological and radical judges to ever sit on the federal bench. Obama has already left his mark on the federal judiciary. Indeed, in his eight years in office, he has changed its character — and not in a good way.”
The Washington Times reported:
“Republicans often point out that Mr. Obama, as a senator, tried to filibuster Samuel Anthony Alito for the Supreme Court in 2005. Analysts say Mr. Obama’s rate of getting judges confirmed would have been lower if Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada hadn’t used the ‘nuclear option.’ Eleven judges have been confirmed with fewer than 60 votes since late 2013.”
When Donald Trump takes office, he will inherit an uncommon number of vacancies in the federal courts in addition to the open Supreme Court seat, giving him an unprecedented opportunity to reshape the judiciary, reported the Chicago Tribune. Of these vacancies that will be handed off to Trump, 105 of them are judicial, which is reportedly double what Obama had when he started office.
According to a report from the Chicago Tribune:
Russell Wheeler, an expert on judicial nominations at the Brookings Institution, said Trump has a great opportunity to change the partisan split in the federal courts. He predicted that by mid-2020, Republican appointees would hold about half of the 673 district judgeships, as opposed to the current 34 percent. And among the 179 circuit court judgeships, Democratic appointees now hold a slim majority, 51 percent, but that could fall to about 43 percent.
Wheeler also warned that there are important limitations to Trump’s power. For one thing, many of the judges most likely to leave their appointments in the coming years were appointed by Republican presidents, meaning there will be fewer opportunities to shift the partisan makeup.
And perhaps more importantly, 28 of the 50 states will be represented by at least one Democratic senator, including large ones such as California, Florida and New York. Senate leaders have a tradition of considering nominees only if they are supported by both senators representing their state – and Democratic senators are expected to bargain hard with the Trump administration, just as Republican senators did with Obama’s.
H/T: The Washington Times
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