Reshaping America’s courts has been a principal accomplishment of Donald Trump that will last for decades beyond his presidency.
During the first week of December, eight judges were confirmed, one of which filled the longest-standing vacancy in the federal judiciary. With that brought the tally of Trump’s confirmed justices to 170, meaning that one out of every five federal judges was appointed by Trump.
The breakdown (at the time) was 120 district court confirmations, forty-eight on the circuit courts, and two on the Supreme Court. In a rush before the New Year, the Senate confirmed another thirteen district court nominees, further increasing Trump’s representation in the courts.
Another visible victory has been Trump flipping the historically liberal U.S. Court of Appeals (circuit courts). One in four judges in the circuit courts has now been appointed by Trump. When Trump took office, nine of the nation’s thirteen circuit courts were dominated by Democrat appointees. That’s since shifted to a Republican majority on seven of them (which, at this pace, will presumably increase).
As I noted elsewhere, Trump’s mounting victories in the courts come despite unprecedented opposition from Democrats. In district courts, where appointments are permanent, nearly half of Trump’s appointees have been appointed with greater than 25% opposition, reflecting hyper-partisanship in the Trump era.
Only 8% of Obama’s nominees faced such opposition and only 4% of Bush’s. Seventy-five percent of Trump’s appointees for the U.S. Court of Appeals was confirmed with greater than 25% opposition, while only 9% of Obama’s judges were.
Historically, from 1979-1980, 97% of appointees to both aforementioned courts, and even the Supreme Court, had no opposition.
So, are you tired of winning yet?