The Senate has installed 24 appellate judges since President Donald Trump was sworn in over a year ago, and is pushing forward with the confirmation of two more judges by the end of this week, as Trump continues to dramatically alter the ideological makeup of the federal judiciary for generations to come, The Washington Post reports.
There are 13 appellate courts that sit below the U.S. Supreme Court, and cases deal with how to interpret federal laws, bureaucratic regulations and rules, the Constitution, and executive orders. The Trump administration has placed a strategic focus on these courts as they have a more powerful effect on policy and legal change, according to CNN, and as a way to terminate Obama era policies.
“The Supreme Court gets the bulk of the attention, but the circuit courts decide the bulk of the cases,” Arthur D. Hellman, a University of Pittsburgh law professor who studies the federal judiciary, told the Post. “Because the Supreme Court these days is taking so few cases, the law of the circuit is, on many, many issues, the final law for the people who live in that circuit.”
There are 13 vacancies to fill of 179 on the U.S. Court of Appeals. If Trump and Republicans move fast enough, they will have installed more than 20 percent of the judges on the nation’s second-highest courts.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is behind the push. The Senate Majority Leader canceled most of the chamber’s traditional summer August recess to “pass legislation, including appropriations bills, and to make additional progress on the president’s nominees,” he said in June, and earlier hailed confirmations in an op-ed for the January National Review.
“One of the most significant accomplishments in President Donald Trump’s first year will serve Americans for decades to come, yet it has received very little fanfare,” wrote McConnell with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa.
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