Personality vs. Policy? We'll Take Trump's 200 Judges.

June 25, 2020

There is a lot of talk about personalities these days. I prefer to talk about policy. The irony here is that despite all the attention given the former, the latter makes a lasting difference for our country.

Perhaps no area reflects this more than judicial nominations. Yesterday, the Senate voted 52-48 to confirm Cory Wilson to sit on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, marking the 200th judicial appointment for the Trump administration. We talk about this a bit, but we can't talk about it enough. In just over his first three years in office, Trump has appointed 53 circuit court judges, 143 trial court judges, two international trade court judges and two Supreme Court justices -- nearly matching President Obama's numbers in some of these categories despite the fact that he had two full terms to do it. Just imagine what President Trump could do if he gets another term.

FRC's Vice President for Policy & Government Affairs Travis Weber joined me on Washington Watch yesterday to talk about it. As Travis told me, when "we look at President Trump's record, President Trump [and] Leader McConnell [are] doing a great job with these nominees being confirmed. These are originalists. These are textualists. These are nominees who will decide the facts, decide the case before them, not make law."

Indeed, the approach of these judges has yielded incredible results, and they have largely upheld religious liberty and pro-life laws. Judge Justin Walker, who was recently confirmed to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled to protect religious liberty and allow church services to continue when suppressed by an unconstitutional coronavirus-related restriction in Kentucky. Elsewhere, judges appointed by President Trump to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals called for review by the full court when 3 judges struck down a state Down syndrome abortion ban.

The president has "flipped" the 2nd, 3rd, and 11th Circuits from majority Democrat-appointed to majority Republican-appointed circuit courts. He narrowed the Democrats' extreme majority on the liberal 9th Circuit from 11 to 3. Now, one out of every 5 federal judges is a Trump nominee.

Yes, the Supreme Court's ruling in the Bostock case last week was troublesome, but it is not a reason to walk away from this process. President Trump's nominees, including his two Supreme Court justices, have still ruled in accordance with the constitution in a number of important cases -- and we are expecting more opinions on life and religious liberty any day now. Without our engagement, we won't see more good pro-life and pro-religious freedom results. Do we think a list of Supreme Court nominees from Joe Biden would be even close to President Trump's?

As Travis told me, the opposition "[doesn't] like that [Senate Majority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell [and] President Trump [have] been [so] successful in confirming these nominees. They can't stand it. That's why they want to win the election, to be able to block these originalists and textualists from continuing to be confirmed."

Indeed, we don't know what openings we'll have on the Supreme Court in a second Trump term. The president recently tweeted that he will be releasing a new list of Supreme Court justice nominees by September 1st. FRC will continue to defend the ability to ensure strong, solid, true originalist judges make it onto the Supreme Court and lower courts.