Rapid Confirmations Reshaping Judicial Branch

Jan 13, 2020

Over the past few years, the U.S. Senate has confirmed 185 of President Donald Trump's judicial nominees, the majority of whom have a conservative track record. Along with two Supreme Court justices, senators have confirmed 50 circuit court and 133 district court judges.

According to States Newsroom reporter Allison Stevens, who has covered politics for nearly a decade, the sheer number of conservative confirmations amounts to what some are calling a repeal of progressive reforms that hearken back to the New Deal. "And what President Trump is doing, and Mitch McConnell is supporting and doing in the Senate, is supporting hundreds of conservative judges, who oppose a lot of progressive reforms, throughout the country," Stevens explains.

The Senate recently confirmed University of Louisville law professor Justin Walker as federal judge for Kentucky's Western District. Stevens says Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell regularly speaks in public about his goal of filling all of the remaining vacancies left on the federal judiciary. "But I don't think it's something that the media pays much attention to, and I don't think it's something that the public really cares all that much about, for the most part," Stevens states.

Stevens says groups such as the American Constitution Society and the Alliance for Justice are trying to change that. "They're trying to call attention to the impact that these judges have on so many aspects of daily life, but in general, they do sort of fly under the radar," she points out. According to the American Constitution Society, more than 70 vacancies on district and circuit courts have yet to be filled.