As Democratic presidential hopefuls make headlines about expanding the number of seats on the U.S. Supreme Court, President Trump’s historic effort to nominate and confirm conservative judges grows more important with each passing day.
Here are three critical points that you need to know when it comes to conservative judges – and why at First Liberty we’re making their confirmation our First Priority.
Right now, one out of every five judges (20%) on the federal appeals courts was nominated and confirmed during President Trump’s administration.
To date, the President has confirmed a total of 92 federal judges, including 2 Supreme Court Justices and a record-breaking 37 judges to the appellate courts, which decide a vast majority of legal cases in the country.
Those are impressive figures, especially when you consider that the President and Senate were able to accomplish this in a matter of two years.
In fact, when you look back at the last five presidential administrations – going back to the days of President Ronald Reagan – Americans haven’t seen that kind of confirmation success happen in that much time.
This may have to do with the fact that the President has put forth a total of 173 nominees since taking office – outpacing all of his five immediate predecessors (Presidents Obama, W. Bush, Clinton, H.W. Bush, and Reagan).
And if the nominations keep coming at that pace, it’s looking more like a real possibly that the President will replace 33% of the federal judiciary with conservative judges.
Think about it. That’s one out of every three federal judges who would be committed to upholding the original, plain text of the Constitution – and who would thereby protect religious liberty by applying the true meaning of the First Amendment.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate voted and confirmed three of the President’s nominees to fill appellate court vacancies:
But what isn’t evident at first sight is that these nominees are younger than you’d expect.
Judge Rushing is 37 years old, making her the youngest federal judge. Judges Murphy and Readler are 39 and 46, respectively.
Overall, the median age of the President’ circuit court judges is approximately 49 years old, slightly younger than the judges confirmed during the past five presidential administrations.
Because judges are confirmed and seated on the bench for life, a nominee’s age is an important trait. It’s not uncommon that judges nominated in their late 30’s or 40’s could be seated on the bench for 40 or even 50 years.
And the implications of this are vast – especially for your first freedom. With young, conservative judges who will interpret the Constitution as originally written, it’s likely that our federal courts will be staffed with jurists who will help safeguard religious liberty for the next half century.
Recently, the U.S. Senate confirmed Paul B. Matey to be a judge in the U.S Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
With that confirmation, President Trump has for the first time in his presidency flipped an appeals court to have a majority of conservative-appointed judges.
Here’s why that’s important to your first freedom. When deciding a case, appeals courts typically choose a three-judge panel at random from its list of judges. So if the ratio of conservative-to-liberal appointed judges is closer to 50-50, then there’s a higher probability that a conservative jurist will hear and rule on cases according to the original text of the Constitution and the First Amendment.
Remember that a three-judge panel of the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued the outrageous ruling that Coach Joe Kennedy did not have a constitutional right to privately pray on the field after football games. If Coach Kennedy’s appeal were heard today, there would be a greater chance of drawing a panel with at least one or two conservative judges on it. Imagine the difference that could have made!
But here is the good news. The Third Circuit may not be the only circuit to flip. We’re seeing the margins improve in other circuits as well.
In the U.S Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, there are a total of 29 judges’ seats. Currently, liberal-appointed judges fill 16 of those seats, conservative-appointed judges occupy 9 seats, and there are 4 vacancies.
Right now, there are 3 Trump nominees to that circuit pending in the U.S. Senate. If the President and Senate Republicans can work to confirm all pending nominees and fill all vacancies, they would bring the margin of conservative-to-liberal appointed judges to 16-13.
And the DC Circuit – often considered the second-most important court after the U.S. Supreme Court – now enjoys a conservative majority thanks to recent confirmations of Trump appointed judges.
So what’s it going to take for the President to have a similar impact in other circuit courts?
Simply put, it means the Senate must take action and begin the confirmation of all pending nominees: 5 that are pending for the appellate courts, as well as the 55 that are pending for the district courts.
Give now. Join First Liberty’s efforts to help confirm more excellent judges who will defend the Constitution and religious liberty!