BY MASOOMA HAQ
The Senate confirmed on Sept. 11 that under President Donald Trump there have been 150 new judicial appointments. The Senate confirmed six more appeals court nominees on Wednesday, including two who were first nominated by Barack Obama.
“I’m very pleased that the Senate has confirmed 150 federal judges thus far in President Trump’s first term,” Senator Lindsey Graham said in a statement after the final vote on the Senate floor. “This is a historic milestone. These conservative judicial appointments will impact our nation for years to come.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee said in a tweet, ”Under the leadership of then-Chairman @ChuckGrassley, now-Chairman @LindseyGrahamSC and @senatemajldr McConnell, the Senate has confirmed the 150th federal judge with a lifetime term nominated by President @realDonaldTrump.”
Fox News host Jedediah Bila on Sept. 8 asked Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network, why these lower federal court appointments are significant.
Severino says the lower federal court appointments are as important as the Supreme Court judges.
“It’s right to emphasis the Supreme Court—clearly very important—but people don’t realize: 99-plus percent of cases actually end at the lower courts, so you need to get it right there. The Supreme Court cannot fix all the errors and we’ve seen really troubling behavior in the lower courts; you look at some of the immigration cases, some of the sanctuary city case.”
“We need judges who are going to apply the same law across the board and, thankfully, that is the kind of men and women we’ve seen President Trump putting on the courts. They are committed to the law, and the Constitution as written.”
“As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will continue to push through highly qualified conservative judges at all levels of the federal courts,” said Graham
So far, the Senate has confirmed 105 Trump district court selections, and 43 circuit court nominees as well as the two Supreme Court justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Trump has been honoring a campaign promise he made to fill federal court vacancies with conservative judges. Democrats in many cases have been opposed to his nominees as being too conservative or unsuited to lifetime positions.
Severino, who follows the nomination hearings, said, “What’s frustrating is all of judges across the board haven’t had the same success because Democrats have put up really unprecedented levels of opposition. Even judges that have unanimous support in the Senate, they have [been made go] through procedural hurdle after hurdle. We have seen really shameful anti-Catholic, most recently anti-Semitic attacks on these nominees.”
The recent confirmations included Stephanie Haines for the Western District of Pennsylvania; Steven Grimberg for the Northern District of Georgia; Steven Seeger for the Northern District of Illinois, and Ada E. Brown, Texas, as well as confirmation of two Obama nominees: Mary McElroy for the District of Rhode Island and Stephanie Gallagher for the District of Maryland.
Comparing with previous presidents, at the two-and-half-year mark, Trump has 43 judges confirmed, Barack Obama had 20, George W. Bush had 27, and Bill Clinton had 25.
Severino said the large number of appointments reflects the high priority Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the Trump administration have put on filling judicial vacancies knowing how important the appellate court confirmations are.
“It is really important to have those judges confirmed first, because they are the most important seats and they have been the most exceptional nominees that Trump has had.”
On Sept. 11, the judiciary committee also considered another group of district court nominees to serve on the New York-based U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the results of which are expected later this month.
The Senate, led by McConnell is poised to begin the next phase of judicial confirmations. There are 19 Trump selections awaiting votes, but McConnell is also waiting for the Judiciary Committee to push forward more nominees.
“I think this Senate and leader McConnell has been very clear: he wants to leave no nominees behind, he’s going to get these nominations through—I think that’s so important.”
She added, “We have to keep moving again with such opposition that the White House is going to have keep nominating to the Senate, keep confirming just to keep up with the pace of retirements.”
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