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Reshaping the Courts: 164 of Trump's Judicial Picks Confirmed by the Senate

By Michael W. Chapman | December 5, 2019 | 2:12pm EST
Supreme Court justices appointed by President Trump: Brett Kavanugah, left, and Neil Gorsuch. (Getty Images)
Supreme Court justices appointed by President Trump: Brett Kavanugah, left, and Neil Gorsuch. (Getty Images)

Donald Trump pledged during the 2016 presidential campaign that if elected he would appoint judges who adhere to the Constitution as written, originalists, and so far he seems to have kept his promise with 164 nominations to various federal courts confirmed by the Senate. Several more are likely to be confirmed by the end of this year.

Since his inauguration, President Donald Trump has put forward 230 nominees for seats on the District Courts, Circuit Courts, Appeals Courts, the Supreme Court, as well as international trade, federal claims, and tax courts. 

As of Dec. 2, 164 of those nominees had been confirmed by the Senate, reported the Heritage Foundation, which hosts a Judicial Appointment Tracker online. 

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

"Almost 30 percent of all circuit court judges in the United States are now Trump appointees, and as of the first week of November, nearly one in five, or 17%, of district court judges are Trump appointees," said Erielle Davidson in a commentary for The Federalist

"The average age of Trump-appointed circuit court judges is 49.1," she added.  "Trump appointees are on average a decade younger than Obama-appointed circuit court judges, a discrepancy whose significance cannot be overstated."


According to the White House on Nov. 4:

-- Working with the Senate, President Trump has now had 158 [now 164] judicial nominees confirmed to the Federal bench – a historic transformation of the judiciary.

-- President Trump has appointed more circuit judges by this point in his presidency than any president in recent history.

-- Approximately 1 out of every 4 active judges on United States Courts of Appeals has been appointed by President Trump.

-- President Trump’s historic appointments have already tipped the balance of numerous Federal courts to a Republican appointed majority.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

-- This includes flipping the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit from a Democrat-appointed majority to a Republican-appointed majority.

-- Progress has been made in reshaping courts that have long been dominated by Democrat-appointed majorities, like the Ninth Circuit.

-- Judges appointed by President Trump are expected to give the Nation more than 2,600 years of combined judicial service.

-- President Trump is committed to appointing judges who set aside their personal views and political prejudices to do what the Constitution and the law demand.


-- This work is especially important due the left-wing’s push to throw away legal precedent and to abandon the Constitution in order to impose its own radical agenda.

In a meeting with Republican senators in early November, President Trump said, "Thanks to many of the people here today, my administration and Republicans in Congress have now confirmed more than 150 federal judges.  And, to be honest with you, it’s substantially higher right now than that, Mitch.  It’s about 159."

"And we should have, within the next short period of time — like two months — we should have about 182 federal judges," said the president.  "How’s that?  Good?  Good?"

"So I want to thank all of you for the incredible job you’ve done," he said.  "That’s really fantastic.  Thank you very much.  That’s a big statement.  And they [judges] will uphold our Constitution as written.  These distinguished men and women are some of the most gifted scholars, respected jurists, and finest legal minds ever placed on the federal bench."

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee (Google Images).
Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee (Google Images).

"Together, we are restoring American freedom, defending American justice, preserving the extraordinary vision of our Founding Fathers," said President Trump. 

Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) is not pleased. As she told the Associated Press, “The result is a judiciary packed with young judges whose views are far outside the mainstream. Instead of serving as neutral arbiters, these judges will push a conservative agenda that will have lasting effects for generations.”

Following the off-year election in November, Nan Aron, president of the left-wing Alliance for Justice, said, “It is stunning that after being repudiated in yesterday’s elections, the president believes he can win back support by reminding the American people of the litany of right-wing ideologues that he has awarded with lifetime positions as federal judges — many of whom are grossly unqualified."

On Wednesday, Dec. 4, Trump-nominee Sarah Pitlyk was confirmed by the Senate (49-44) to serve as a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. It is a lifetime appointment. Pitlyk is 42 years old and a member of the Federalist Society, a group of conservatives and libertarians that supports an originalist interpretation of the Constitution. 

Sarah Pitlyk, appointed by President Trump to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, and confirmed to the position by the U.S. Senate on Dec. 4, 2019. (Heritage Foundation)
Sarah Pitlyk, appointed by President Trump to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, and confirmed to the position by the U.S. Senate on Dec. 4, 2019. (Heritage Foundation)

 

 

Pitlyk is a former clerk to  Justice Brett Kavanugh, and she is special counsel to the conservative, pro-life Thomas More Society. Pitlyk opposes abortion and has argued against in vitro fertilization (IVF), which usually requires the destruction or freezing of multiple human embryos in order to achieve a pregnancy. 

Pitlyk wrote in a 2017 legal brief that IVF and surrogacy lead to “diminished respect for motherhood and the unique mother-child bond; exploitation of women; commodification of gestation and of children themselves; and weakening of appropriate social mores against eugenic abortion.”

The left-wing Huffington Post complained that Pitlyk holds "extreme views."  Slate also complained that on the district court in Missouri, Pitlyk "will join her fellow Trump appointees in dismantling the constitutional right to reproductive autonomy, laying the groundwork for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade."

"The Senate may not be passing any legislation these days," said Slate, "but by rapidly ramming through radical nominees like Pitlyk, Republicans are ensuring that the GOP platform will be implemented from the bench for decades to come."


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