Happy Holiday Happy Holiday, While The GOP Appoints Judges, Happy Holidays To You
December 23, 2019
OH ANOTHER YEAR'S GONE BY|
With the holiday season in full swing, the time has come to consider the year that is now behind us. Aaron Blake with The Washington Post delivers his list of the five most undersold stories of 2019, and #1 on his list is unsurprisingly the story of MITCH MCCONNELL remaking the federal judiciary. Blake writes, “After gumming up the confirmation of judges for most of BARACK OBAMA’S presidency — and eventually ignoring Supreme Court nominee MERRICK GARLAND in 2016 — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has used the first three years of Trump’s presidency to remake the American judiciary in the GOP’s image.”
THE NEED FOR SPEED|
Li Zhou with Vox also considers the breakneck pace with which the Republican-dominated Senate confirmed judges to the federal bench this year. They were laser-focused on getting as many conservatives as possible into lifetime appointments, Zhou notes, even if they weren’t all that qualified for the job. “That included three who were deemed ‘not qualified’ for the job, by the American Bar Association (ABA), the independent professional organization which has offered presidents guidance on judicial picks for decades…The ABA ratings have long been part of the vetting process that each judicial nominee goes through, though presidents have opted to treat them differently. Former President Barack Obama, for example, waited to receive the ratings before making his nominations official, while Trump has declined to do so.”
A FESTIVUS FOR THE REST OF US|
Three years into the Trump presidency and now 1 in 4 U.S. circuit court judges are nominees of DONALD TRUMP, not to mention that two of his picks sit on the highest court in the land. “Trump’s mark on the judiciary is already having far-reaching effects on legislation and liberal priorities. Just last week, the 5th Circuit struck down a core provision of the Affordable Care Act. One of the two appellate judges who ruled against the landmark law was a Trump appointee. The Supreme Court — where two of the nine justices are conservatives selected by Trump — could eventually hear that case.” Colby Itkowitz with The Washington Post reports.
THE AIRING OF GRIEVANCES|
While the world watched the impeachment of PRESIDENT TRUMP last week, two more of his appointees were confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. But Nathan R. Hardy and Richard L. Jolly were paying attention, and they wrote in the Los Angeles Times about Democrats’ plans for confronting the reality of our new judiciary. “For years, Democrats have sat on their hands while Republicans meticulously executed a decades-long plan to reshape America’s courts that has paid off under Trump. Democrats must now actively confront the Trump judiciary. This means considering modest proposals like the creation of merit-selection panels for judicial vacancies as well as bold reforms like structurally reforming the Supreme Court by increasing the number of seats and mandating term limits for justices.”
FEATS OF STRENGTH|
Executive Director of Fix the Court, GABE ROTH, wrote in response to the LA Times op-ed on reforming the Supreme Court to offer his expertise on the matter. He suggests, “A statute ending life tenure in favor of a system that rotates justices back to a lower court after, say, 18 years should be popular with both parties. Such a law would keep our top jurists in the judiciary for life, per the Constitution’s guarantee, while ensuring our nation’s laws are no longer contingent on the health of octogenarians. After impeaching an Article II officer this week, Congress would be wise to recall there’s a third branch that also needs to be reined in.”
SEE YOU NEXT YEAR|
SCOTUSDaily will return to your inboxes in 2020. Until then, have a safe and sane holiday season!