How Trump took over America’s courts


The Ninth Circuit is a disaster. Nobody can believe these decisions we’re
getting from the Ninth Circuit, it’s a disgrace. The Ninth Circuit — everybody knows it — it’s
totally out of control. When Trump took office, most of the Ninth
Circuit’s judges had been appointed by Democratic presidents. And they overruled some of Trump’s
most provocative executive orders: The travel ban, emergency funding for a border wall,
they all stopped here. It’s very hard to win at the Ninth Circuit,
if not impossible. But that’s changing. Trump has already added seven new judges to
the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and by the end of his first term there’s a good
chance the Ninth Circuit could look very different. We usually think of the three branches of
government as the president, Congress, and the Supreme Court. But it’s here, in the federal courts, where
President Trump is building his longest-lasting legacy. You know, when I got in, we had over 100 federal
judges that weren’t appointed. It was like a big, beautiful present to all of us. Federal courts hear lawsuits involving the
Constitution or laws made by Congress. Say a city pays a female employee less than
her male counterpart — that violates the Equal Pay Act, a federal law. So that case would start here, where all federal
lawsuits start, in a District Court. There’s at least one in every state. For example, California is home to 61 judges
who serve on the state’s four District Courts. If the case is appealed, it moves up to the
aptly named Court of Appeals. It’s made up of 13 Circuit Courts, and they each hear
cases from different parts of the country. So a case that started in California will
move up to the Ninth Circuit Court, because they hear cases from the western part of the
US. If it’s appealed again, it’ll go to the
Supreme Court. But they only hear less 100 cases a year.
The Circuit Courts? They hear 50,000. For most federal cases, these judges give
the final, precedent-setting ruling. They’re kind of a big deal. And every single judge here is nominated by
the president and serves for life. Now here’s a chart showing how many Circuit
Court judges a president confirmed, by what time in their presidency. There’s Ronald
Reagan’s. And this is George H. W. Bush’s. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. All pretty
consistent, right? Now here’s Barack Obama’s. Look how it totally flatlines in his last
two years. That’s because all federal judges are nominated
by the president but then have to be confirmed by a vote in the Senate. And after the 2014 election, Republicans gained
control in the Senate and Mitch McConnell stopped holding votes on nearly all of Obama’s
court picks. From the Supreme Court all the way down
to the District Courts. So when Trump took office, not only did he
have a ton of vacant seats to fill, he had a Republican-controlled Senate to help fill
them. Quickly. In fact, Trump has appointed more Circuit
Court judges in the first half of his first term than any other modern president. But his judges are different. This is where all the judges nominated by
each president fall on a scale between liberal and conservative, determined by their past
political donations. Here’s the median score for those judges. You can see that appointees on both sides
have moved further to the left and right of their party’s medians. But Trump’s median
pick is more conservative than Obama’s was liberal. And more conservative than his Republican
predecessors’. And if you look at the ideological distribution
of judges appointed by previous presidents, you can see tails at either end. Both Republican
and Democratic presidents appointed some judges that leaned the other way. But Trump? Not really. Traditionally, presidents need to work with
the Senate. If a judgeship opens up in, say, Texas, the
nominee would need the approval of the Texas senators. No approval, no vote. It makes presidents compromise with the opposite
party and prevents them from stacking the courts with super-partisan judges. That’s why these past presidents had to
have a spectrum of judges. But when Trump nominated two men for seats
on the Ninth Circuit — the court that keeps overturning Trump’s executive orders — the
two Democratic senators from California opposed them both, calling them “far outside the
judicial mainstream.” One because of some controversial writings
in college and the other because of his prior work as a defense lawyer, including for oil
companies where he argued climate change isn’t real. Normally this would mean they would never
get a vote, let alone a hearing. But Republicans aren’t honoring this century-old
informal rule, and judges are being confirmed without the support of either home-state senator.
Including those two on the Ninth. Trump has now appointed seven new judges to
the Ninth Circuit: one because Obama’s nominee wasn’t allowed a vote and four without the
approval of home-state senators. He’s expected to appoint at least two more judges before
his first term is over. This is what the Circuit Courts looked like
when Trump became president at the beginning of 2017. And here’s how the courts look halfway through
2019. It’s expected that every president gets
to have an impact on the federal courts. That’s normal. But Trump only got to fill these seats because
of McConnell’s refusal to hold a vote on Obama’s picks. None of these Trump picks had the support
of both senators from their home state. And as a group, Trump’s picks are more conservative
than his Republican predecessors’. In 2018, Mitch McConnell laid out his goals
for the federal judiciary in a radio interview. And his plan is working.

100 comments

  1. Complacency and intellectual zealotry often result in the antithesis of what is being hyped.  So the American Left has been distracted for years now by their feeling emboldened by the occasional wins in the cultural war that is ongoing in the US.  Meanwhile the American Right has been focused on altering the balance of the US Courts which have been behind their losses in that same battle.

    Accordingly we see the rise of Trumputin who exploited that "angst" on the far-Right and who has been abetted by conservative media sources such as Faux News who have been pushing the effort to alter the makeup of the courts.  Anyone who follows FNC knew that the courts was a recurrent theme on that channel for many years now.

    So conservatives have been losing ground for a while now as the country inexorably moves away from their ideological worldview.  They therefore made a "Faustian bargain" in the form of supporting Trumputin. They embrace him despite all his obvious flaws = and in return they got a court system which will help to keep their ideological worldview alive for a while longer.  The lesson for the Left is never assume anything as "things change" = all the time.  The signs were there and the Left was asleep at the switch in 2016.  They assumed with the ascendancy of Obama that they had won the cultural war = wrong. It is perpetual.

  2. Trump is setting up to use those judges/political party for a dictatorship to take over when his term is over

  3. What! What do you mean they said no! I'm rich, judges are just people you pay off! Trump ruining the country one step at a time.

  4. term limits and/or age limits. There was a good idea to put a 18 or 20 year time limit on supreme court judges, in Canada the senate has a mandatory age limit of 75.

  5. Courts by and large no longer serve citizens, they serve the government. Judges that instruct jury's to ignore law, overturn verdicts, and legislate from the bench……

  6. Basing judge’s political beliefs based on how much money they’ve given to people is maybe the worst way to find out political leanings.

  7. The 9th is the most overturned in the country. So trump should apoint better judges. Why did you not complain when obama got elected and fired all political appointees and replaced them with his people?

  8. Thank you VOX, for showing the granduer of President Donald Trump! I'm glad that as your channel and website fall into the abyss of old media, that you will be protecting, glorifying, and adding to the image of President Trump. I applaud your effforts.

  9. Even if judges were to be elected by independent panel the people on the panel would still have political views and probably choose judges based off of their views

  10. In Trump’s defense, the 9th Circuit gets overturned 4 out of 5 times in the Supreme Court. So he has a point with the 9th Circuit

  11. I'm far away from liking Trump and his political views, but he being constitutionally allowed to influence the judiciary, it is understandable that he uses his power.

    He is not the problem, but the American constitution.
    How can a president choose the judges in a liberal democratic state that is claiming to have separation of powers?

    For me as a German, this is not understandable.

  12. It's very sad and frustrating to see that the most influential country in the world will have climate change deniers and corporations running everything. I've never felt more depressed about the future of Earth… We will cause our own extinction very shortly

  13. Basically the Republicans have broken the country so bad the only thing that can save us now is a revolution….or collapse.

  14. You mean he did his job? and Vox you shouldn't use terms like provocative its really biases. also the wage gap is a myth.

  15. Then it's time to roll back everything Mitch has done, and make it illegal for future congresses to ever do again.

  16. This is great news. Having judges that actually follow the law instead of making it up from the bench.
    Nice music over the end credits.

  17. Trump is a winner! He appoints real judges not activists who legislate from the bench. So glad we will have him as POTUS until 2025!

  18. This video somehow neglects to mention that the old 9th circuit was routinely ruling in direct contradiction to SCOTUS precedent. I wonder why?

  19. Strict constructionists should be the only judges on the courts, if there is a ground swell to change something in the law, there is a procedure to do just that called the amendment process to the constitution and judges cant stop that from happening which is exactly how it should be. The fact that we have judges on the courts differing from each other in opinions on the law is the injustice people feel and this causes the courts to become politicized.

  20. That is the shittest graph I've ever seen. A graph for how "conservative" or "liberal" judges are. Doesn't even make sense. What is currently conservative? Tariffs? censorship? – seems to change every 15 years.

  21. Aweee….you all mad that the supreme court is conservative for 35 years huh…..

    U wernt saying this when it was liberal

  22. Okay I see how this works Trump doesn’t do something you like so you call him out for taking advantage of something someone else did. When trump nominated those 2 men for the state of California and the state didn’t like them it wasn’t up to trump to diced if Congress will let those 2 into the court. Stop blaming trump for everything

  23. Judges should be allowed to serve for life, but they should have to be “confirmed” every so often. This doesn’t mean they have to go back to step 1, but they have to stay relevant to the situations of this country.

  24. Hahaha hehehe hehehe.. the judicial system was being taken over by liberal America not So Much Anymore.. brilliant!

  25. If its supposed to be fair and they are supposed to appoint bi partisan nominees, how come the dems ruled and by far outnumbered the other party? But now that the tides have turned it's a problem? Why is it ok for dems to have control but when GOP has control it's a issue?

  26. Left makes decision based on their feelings Right makes decision through facts and by not being offended immediately. IT'S THAT SIMPLE.

  27. Trump's distain is not of "Libreral " thought , actions and decisions from / of the court, but from the deference, refusal & conscious decisions that do no honor their pledge and responsibility to hold the "Constitution " as supreme law of the land. The refusal to nullify unconstitutional legislation and preference to honor ""Non / un constitutional opinion .. even as far as quoting international law and U.N. policies to support decisions and preferences. There is a serious lack in our education system along with a purposeful effort to misinform students and general populace of how the US system is designed and our responsibilities as citizens , politicians and Judges. We are a Republic, Union of States, not a "Democratic Mob " .. or so it should be. I suspect most of "VOX" disagrees.

  28. Well, I dont understand why you anyone would blame trump, is he has the power to appoint then obviously hes not goimg to pick a democrat, everyone is trying to gain leverage for their own side, the system in place seems shady, if you give just a slight chance to a man like trump he will literally take over control, nothing new here.

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