This week President Trump had his 200th judge confirmed. That constituted an astounding record and means that right now he has no unfilled vacancies. There are also no future circuit court vacancies. In light of the recent Supreme Court rulings on gun rights and homosexual/lesbian/transgender discrimination, and decisions not to review cases (especially related to guns), many conservatives bristled at whether Trump’s influence on the courts had indeed been that significant.
First, President Trump did not appoint John Roberts and therefore shares no blame for his role in these rulings. Second, although Justice Neil Gorsuch made a statutory ruling, it is worth pointing out that it was the same ruling (made at a lower court level) that the judge Antonin Scalia named as the man he would have chosen to replace him—Frank Easterbrook. In other words, Scalia, had he named his own replacement, would have put a man on the court who ruled exactly like Gorsuch.
For a broader look at Trump’s impact on the judicial system, however, let’s see how some of his appointees have ruled:
*In an en banc ruling on the 9th Circuit Court, with Trump judges Kenneth Kiyul Lee and Eric Miller, the majority upheld the Trump administration’s move to prevent abortion facilities from receiving Title X Family Planning funding. Essentially, Planned Parenthood gave up on trying to receive such funds after this ruling.
*A 2019 case saw Judge Tim Kelly, a Trump appointee in D.C., dismiss the lawsuit filed by Leandra English, the fired director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Trump fired her. She sued, but Kelly held that Trump was allowed to make the appointment of Mick Mulvaney (and fire English) under the Federal Vacancies Act
*In Louisville, Trump district judge Justin Walker (now confirmed to the D.C. Circuit court) put a stop to the orders of Mayor Greg Fischer, who had prohibited Easter drive-in services but allowed drive-in liquor stores.
*In Yafai v Pompeo (January 2019), Trump-appointed judge and potential Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett wrote the opinion to uphold visas denial by a woman who had attempted to smuggle children into the United States.
*The Appellate Court who heard the case of Michael Flynn and sent it back to Judge Emmett Sullivan to be dismissed, was written by Trump judge Neomi Rao, a new appointee to the D.C. Circuit Court
*A 2018 case saw Justice Neil Gorsuch join the other conservatives in striking down California’s disclosure laws for “crisis pregnancy centers” as unconstitutional compelled speech. Pro-life clinics could, therefore, offer their services to pregnant women without being forced to spout pro-abortion information.
*In March 2019, Trump-appointed judge Kevin Newsom on the 11th Circuit authored an en banc opinion-making it harder for people to claim illegal job discrimination without evidence.
*Trump judges Greg Katsas and Rao on the D.C. Circuit struck down a district court injunction against the death penalty, allowing executions to resume.
*State redistricting by the Supreme Court is now a state issue (Rucho v. Common Cause). The Supreme Court, with Gorsuch and Kavanaugh voting with the majority, cannot override partisan gerrymandering. This was an issue on which Justice Anthony Kennedy had waffled on for years.
*Trump-appointed Sixth Circuit Judge John Bush cast the deciding vote against easing Ballot Requirements during the China Virus pandemic.
*Trump Fifth Circuit Judge Kyle Duncan cast the deciding vote to reverse a district court and allow a Texas order to ban abortions during the China Virus. If other “elective” surgeries could be put off, so could abortions.
Overall, the impact of the Trump judges has been so monumental that People for the American Way (likely better named “People for Communism and Fascism”) have an entire section of its website dedicated to “Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears” with over 100 cases decided by Trump judges.
In short, Trump has not only been prolific in filling judicial vacancies but his appointees have terrified the left. Sounds like a win-win to me.
Larry Schweikart is the co-author of A Patriot’s History of the United States, author of Reagan: The American President, and is “America’s History Teacher” with full US and World high school history classes available at www.wildworldofhistory.com.