The New York Times reports that Trump has the opportunity to appoint many judges to the federal courts.
While attention has been focused on the Supreme Court, we should also consider other federal courts and the lasting impact that Donald Trump might have.
The New York Times reports,
After Jimmy Carter took office, Congress established 152 new federal judgeships, expanding the federal judiciary by nearly 30 percent and allowing Mr. Carter to stack the federal courts despite a presidency that lasted only one term.
Mr. Trump, through a combination of demography and a growing number of vacancies, stands to enjoy a similar windfall. Democrats have long accused Republican Senate leaders of obstruction in not allowing many of the previous administration’s judicial nominees to come to a vote. The most prominent example was the refusal to vote on Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court, but the tactic extended to Mr. Obama’s lower court nominees as well.
“Right off the bat, Republicans refused to approve anyone,” said Nan Aron, president of the liberal group Alliance for Justice. “So you know how important this is to the Republican Party.” Currently, 112 of the 870 authorized judgeships with lifetime appointments remain vacant — 33 have been vacant for more than two years.
John Malcolm, the director of the conservative Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, agreed with Ms. Aron’s characterization. “Mr. Trump has been given quite the opportunity,” Mr. Malcolm said, noting that there were about twice the number of vacancies on the federal bench as there were when Mr. Obama took office — “roughly an eighth of the judiciary.”
It’s not just vacancies. The federal bench has many judges who are older than 70. Federal judges are appointed for life, but at a certain combination of years served and age, they become eligible to accept “senior status,” a form of semi-retirement. If a judge enters senior status, that creates an open seat. Though it is highly unlikely, if all the federal judges who are eligible take senior status during Mr. Trump’s first term, he could appoint half of the federal bench.
What kind of justices will Donald Trump appoint? While nothing can be absolutely certain, Trump’s words upon announcing his Supreme Court pick give us reason to hope for the best.
Notice that Trump put emphasis on how he was being faithful to a promise he made to select a Constitutional judge for the Supreme Court. He plainly wants conservative voters to be happy with him. We have every reason to trust him to select conservative judges to fill those vacancies in the federal courts.
This should remind us of how thankful we ought to be that Donald Trump won this election. If he hadn’t we would be preparing for Hillary Clinton to transform the federal courts. We escaped a dramatic loss of the courts and of the Constitution for a generation.
While there is much else that we want Trump to accomplish during the next eight years, if for some reason he only manages to appoint good judges, conservatives will have succeeded.