As we reflect on one of the most historic presidencies of all time, there is no area of our democracy that the Trump administration has done more to advance conservative principles than our judiciary. Indeed, in a short span of four years, President Trump’s picks at all levels of America’s court system were impressive and far-reaching.
The sheer volume of Trump’s judicial nominees, 226 in four years total, is eye-popping compared to the last two administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who netted 322 and 320 judges during their eight-year tenures, respectively. Unlike President Jimmy Carter, who had the luxury of expanding the judiciary and creating new posts (nearly 50% of his appointments were new positions), President Trump came into office in 2016 with a significant number of vacancies, most notably, of course, was the seat held by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia whose death in the middle of the 2016 campaign became a catalyst for the election victories of President Trump and Republicans across the board.
Efforts by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) under the Obama administration ensured a large number of vacancies were available to be filled by the incoming Republican administration. Over the past four years, Senator McConnell then made filling those vacancies with President Trump’s picks a top priority. “I think it’s far and away the most consequential thing I’ve ever been involved in,” the 78-year-old McConnell said in an interview with the Associated Press. “And it’s the most long-lasting accomplishment of the [Trump] administration, by far.’’
Together, President Trump and Senate Republicans confirmed conservative Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, 54 appeals court judges, 173 district court judges, and three to the Court of International Trade. An impressive roster, to be sure. Importantly, a large number of Trump-appointed judges are in their 40s or 50s, giving them decades to influence and shape federal law. Trump’s Supreme Court nominees, for example, range from age 48 to 55.
President Donald Trump’s appointments will be around to defend the constitution and protect the American way of life for future generations. But Trump’s legacy on the federal judiciary will live on beyond that. Don’t just take it from me. Progressives who see these judicial appointments as a roadblock in implementing far-left policies have been voicing their frustration. “The legacy of Trump’s judicial nominations is going to be a barrier not just to Biden but Democratic presidents for a long time,” Brian Fallon, executive director of the liberal advocacy group Demand Justice and former press secretary for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign told USA Today. “We are behind the eight ball for years to come.”
Bob Carlstrom is President of AMAC Action