President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., already had remade the federal judiciary before the hinge of fate swung again on Friday night.
The Republican-controlled Senate has confirmed no fewer than 200 federal judges, many of them young, and each to a lifelong term, as NPR’s Carrie Johnson has reported.
Two of those jurists included Supreme Court justices — Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — and the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg now means that Trump can nominate a third. McConnell said on Friday night he intends to convene a vote on that nominee in the Senate, potentially before Election Day or Inauguration Day in January.
Conservative legal activists couldn’t be happier about McConnell’s project, which not only stocks lower-level federal courts with judges they believe will interpret the law in a way they support, but also creates a vast pool from which Trump now could select for a Supreme Court nominee.
“Filling all of these circuit seats is an unmitigated success, no downside to that,” Carrie Severino, who leads the Judicial Crisis Network, told NPR’s Johnson.
Here’s a breakdown from last summer about the judges Trump has nominated and McConnell has led to confirmation in the Senate.
The corps of judges now in place means conservatives hope for a body of rulings that match their perspectives on key issues, including on reproductive rights, environmental issues, voting cases and more. Plus the comparatively young age of the population of judges — some in their 30s and 40s — mean they’ll be on the bench for decades.
Democrats accuse McConnell of a cynical scheme: he blocked judicial nominees under President Obama to create a surplus of vacancies, which he then was able to fill with the arrival of a Republican president.
Other critics also noted to NPR’s Johnson how mostly male and mostly white were the judges of the Trump-McConnell era.
Vanita Gupta, who runs the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said this of the cadre: “It is an astonishing lack of representation.”