Trump’s Opportunity to Reshape America’s Legal System

Having a Republican in the White House and a Republican controlled Senate and House is good and can result in a lot of accomplishments for conservatives. Most legislation only requires a majority vote in both houses of Congress and the President’s signature to become law. Certain types of legislation, such as treaty ratification etc., require more votes than ordinary legislation.

However, over the past several decades, the federal courts in America have taken on a role that they were never intended to have. They have assumed the authority of dictating to Congress, the President and the American people what laws will be allowed and which ones won’t.

In this role of superior authority and power, the federal courts have established themselves as the most powerful branch of the federal government instead of the lesser branch as originally intended by the Founding Fathers.

For example, some years ago, a huge majority of the citizens of Arizona voted to make English the one and only official language. Then one liberal federal judge opted to overturn the will of the voters, which goes against every principle that our nation was founded on. So much for ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’.

In the latest example of how one liberal judge assumes more power than given by the Constitution, one liberal judge ruled on his personal liberal agenda to block President Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees. The President’s order was legal under a US Code that gives the President such discretion when it concerns national security.

Besides being the most powerful of the three branches of the federal government, the Judicial Department is also the largest. The Executive Department consists of 2 key people, the President and Vice President and then all of the supporting staff and Cabinet members. Congress is composed of 535 individuals and their supporting staff. However, the Judicial department not only consists of the 9 Supreme Court judges, there are also 2,037 federal judges appointed by the President.

However, Donald Trump may have the opportunity to reshape and restore the American judicial system.

Congress authorizes a set number of judge positions, or judgeships, for each court level. Since 1869, Congress has authorized 9 positions for the Supreme Court. As of 2007, it had authorized 179 court of appeals judgeships and 678 district court judgeships. (In 1950, there were only 65 court of appeals judgeships and 212 district judgeships). As of 2007, Congress had authorized 352 bankruptcy judgeships and 551 full-time and part-time magistrate judgeships. It is rare that all judgeships are filled at any one time; judges die or retire, for example, causing vacancies until judges are appointed to replace them.

The President has the job of appointing qualified men and women to the federal courts. Since the first term of Richard Nixon, Donald Trump may have the opportunity to appoint more federal judges than any other first term president.

To begin with, he inherits a judicial system with a 12% vacancy rate. Only Bill Clinton inherited a higher vacancy rate with 14%.

Additionally, the median age of current federal judges is 62.6-years of age. That’s 2-years older than the median age of federal judges when Barack Obama took office and the oldest median age since Nixon took office in January 1969.

Based on the number of inherited vacancies, median ages and the historical turnover rate of federal judges, it is possible that President Trump may be faced with a total vacancy rate of 38% during his first term in office.

Replacing over a third of the federal judges could have a huge impact on restoring and reshaping the integrity of the judicial system in America. That impact could be felt for many years after Trump leaves office.

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Dave Jolly

R.L. David Jolly holds a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and an M.S. in Biology – Population Genetics. He has worked in a number of fields, giving him a broad perspective on life, business, economics and politics. He is a very conservative Christian, husband, father and grandfather who cares deeply for his Savior, family and the future of our troubled nation.

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