President-elect Donald Trump will have more than 100 seats to fill in the federal courts at the transition of power on January 20th – making this nearly double the number, 54, that Obama inherited from the George W. Buch presidency in 2008.
The moment Trump steps foot into the White House, he will inherit an unusual number of empty federal court seats, 103, to be exact, in addition to the open vacancy for the Supreme Court after the death of Judge Antonin Scalia. With this kind of opportunity, it gives Trump the upper hand to potentially “reshape the judiciary after taking office.”
Over the course of this 8-year term, Obama appointed nearly 340 judges to the federal courts. 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.
Judicial Crisis Network chief counsel, Carrie Severino, who has openly been against Obama’s court appointments, had this to say: “I’m optimistic he’ll come at this right out of the gate.” Severino added, “Every president can expect to make a huge impact. [Trump] is unique in having campaigned really hard on this issue — the significance of the courts, and of the Supreme Court in particular.”
According to the Washington Post, conservative leaders are already hoping Trump will pick people to further push their ideals on a number of key issues – such as gun control, women’s health and rights, immigration, and voter restriction.
During this campaign trail, Trump frequently talked about putting forward a more conservative Supreme Court nominee as a way to galvanize the right, but did not discuss the many vacancies in lower courts. One of his priorities has been to reshape the federal judiciary, according to his aides. He even made this remark during this acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention:
“The replacement of our beloved Justice Scalia will be a person of similar views, principles and judicial philosophies,” He added, “Very important. This will be one of the most important issues decided by this election.”
As soon as he takes office, Trump will be under immense pressure to fill judges in the courts, especially where courts are experiencing a heavy backlog of cases due to long-standing vacancies. Nearly 38 are being classified as “judicial emergencies,” according to the nonpartisan Judicial Conference. “There are people and companies who are not having their cases heard because there are no judges around,” says W. Neil Eggleston, Obama’s White House counsel.
President-elect Trump’s transition team has not commented how they plan to select nominees, but it is known that White House Counsel Don McGahn will play a key role. The Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation have been working closely with Trump and his team to suggest candidates.
H/T: Washington Post.
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