Even though Donald Trump is removed from office in November (and is in fact leaving), the judges appointed by Trump with life seats on the federal bench have already radically changed the face of our courts just like Donald Trump throughout. a series of questions.
The effects of Senate Leader Mitch McConnell’s relentless pressure to pack the courts with Trump’s choices are being felt directly in decisions to restrict the franchise and curtail immigration. Even if Joe Biden wins the presidency, his policies and legislative remedies will face legal challenges that, before Trump took control of the courts, would have been rejected.
Trump boasted during last week’s debate that he appointed around 300 federal judges plus a third Supreme Court nominee ready to go, a stellar record he made possible by leaving 128 vacancies behind. “When you step down, you leave no judge,” Trump said, implying that Obama and Biden were slackers.
First the numbers: by the end of October, if everything goes as planned and the coronavirus epidemic at the White House does not generate the Senate, Trump will add 10 additional judges, including a possible third judge of the Supreme Court, to boost its whole. in total at 228, far less than 300 but more than any other president since Jimmy Carter 40 years ago.
These legal vacancies that Obama and Biden failed to fill? There were 105 (not 128), plus a Supreme Court seat that McConnell reserved for Trump after he refused even to grant a hearing to Merrick Garland, the Obama candidate. McConnell’s obstruction has given Trump his judicial bounty, and Trump’s judges are on course to remake the American justice system.
A frightening example: The 11th Circuit ruling last month that convicted felons in Florida who have served their sentences and paid off their debt to society cannot have their votes restored until they pay the last dollar of the fines and fees they owe. Five Trump-appointed judges made a difference in that opinion by denying the vote to hundreds of thousands of Floridians in a move that stinks of a modern election tax.
“These are Trump candidates doing whatever they can to help Donald Trump win the state of Florida,” Dan Goldberg said with the Alliance for Justice Action Committee. “Politics aside, what does our democracy say about our democracy that there is this concerted effort not just in Florida but across the country to make it nearly impossible for otherwise eligible voters to exercise their right to vote and have their vote? say on who governs?
Almost two-thirds of Florida’s electorate in 2018 voted to amend the state’s constitution to allow criminals who have served their time to vote. There are an estimated 1.4 million criminals in Florida, and the GOP-controlled legislature, apparently fearing too many people will vote Democratic, has passed a law making the right to vote conditional on full payment of all costs associated with their confinement. . Initial rulings called this requirement unconstitutional, especially when the state said this information was not readily available – some criminals were convicted years or decades ago, others in others. States, etc. – and that the creation of a system to monitor them would take six years. .
Even so, Goldberg says, the 11th Circuit uses “creative judicial reasoning … that forcing individuals to pay fees and fines is somehow not a ballot tax.” The judge who wrote the opinion, William Pryor, is on Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist. He was joined in the majority decision by four Trump-appointed judges, three of whom are also on Trump’s burgeoning Supreme Court roster.
The judges appointed by the Republicans now have the majority on the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 11th circuits. The 2nd, 3rd and 11th circuits passed under Trump from Democratic to Republican majorities.
“The large number of people appointed by Trump, most of whom are very young, will be with us for a very long time … “
Federalist Society-backed Trump Judge Ryan Nelson, confirmed in 2018 by a simple Senate majority of 51 votes, made the difference in a Sept. 14 immigration ruling that upheld Trump’s order to deport immigrants from Central America, Haiti, and Sudan who have been in the United States, some for decades, under Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Elizabeth Warren tweeted: “I am deeply disappointed with the 9th Circuit’s decision to end TPS for over 300,000 immigrants. These families are part of the fabric of our communities and our economy. Many have been our essential workers during this pandemic. To end the protections for them now is just cruel.
Citing the Florida decision and the TPS decision, Elliot Mincberg with People for the American Way told the Daily Beast: “It is absolutely true that the large number of people appointed by Trump, most of whom are very young, will be with us for a very long time. long time. and write opinions and votes that will be very difficult to overcome. “
He notes that those appointed by Trump tend to defer to presidential and executive authorities, which is one of the reasons they caught Trump’s attention in the first place, and why they are on the list. of Trump’s Supreme Court. “Will they continue to do this if the power changes?” Mincberg asks. “If they’re intellectually consistent, they should do it.”
He cites Nomi Rao, 47, as an example, who replaced Brett Kavanaugh in DC District Court in 2019 after joining the Supreme Court. She had worked in Trump’s White House as a “regulatory czar” before Trump appointed her to court. She is a hard core for Trump and was the only dissenter from a three-judge panel earlier this year to rule that House Democrats were seeking access to the grand jury documents Robert Mueller compiled for his report on the Russian collusion.
If Biden wins, we’ll know soon enough how Rao and others adjust to a change in power. “Who knows, maybe she just believes in executive power,” Mincberg says with a hint of sarcasm that expresses her disbelief that Trump’s judges will transfer their loyalty to executive power to a Democratic president.
Last month, on September 9, Trump announced 20 more potential Supreme Court candidates, building on the floating-name strategy he used in 2016 to ensure his conservative voter base what they need. would get if they elected him. It included three Senators (Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley), claiming he would appoint judges in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, the more conservative members of the court.
He clearly did not quote the two judges he appointed to the tribunal, Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, who did not go as he wanted on a few key decisions.
Ten days after Trump released her wishlist, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away, leaving behind a valuable vacancy that, if filled by Trump, will cement a conservative 6-to-3 supermajority in the Supreme Court for decades to come up. Just eight days after Ginsburg’s death on September 18, Trump introduced Amy Coney Barrett, 48, in a ceremony at the Rose Garden, clearly indicating his intention to win Senate confirmation ahead of the election.
No previous candidate has gotten confirmation so close to an election when people have already started voting. The revelation early Friday morning that President Trump has tested positive for the coronavirus has raised questions on Capitol Hill about whether the Senate could meet the tight deadline Trump and McConnell want. A member of the Judiciary Committee, Utah Senator Mike Lee, announced on Friday that he had also tested positive.
The judiciary likes to think of itself above politics, but Trump put an end to this fiction. And he’s not alone, dating back to at least 2000 and the Bush vs. Gore Decision of the Supreme Court, it is evident that the courts are submissive and reflect the same partisan division as the other two branches of government.
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