Trump Filling the Liberal 9th Circuit Court with Conservatives

The number of judges installed by President
Trump to the federal bench has now reached 187. Per SFGate, after three years in office, President
Donald Trump has remade the federal judiciary, ensuring a conservative tilt for decades and
cementing his legacy no matter the outcome of November’s election. Trump nominees make up 1 in 4 U.S. circuit
court judges. Two of his picks sit on the Supreme Court. And this past week, as the
House voted to impeach the president, the Republican-led Senate confirmed another 13
district court judges. Politico reports a bastion of liberalism in
the federal judiciary is slowly turning rightward, threatening Democratic court challenges on
everything from abortion to who gets a green card. The Senate confirmation of Lawrence VanDyke
and Patrick Bumatay to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this month brought to nine
the number of appointments President Donald Trump has made to the 29-member bench that
serves as the last stop for nearly all legal complaints lodged in nine Western states.
Democratic-appointed judges now hold a three-seat majority, compared with 11 at the start of
Trump’s presidency. If the trend continues, it represents a major
shift in the liberal wing of the judiciary, meaning lawsuits for progressive causes won’t
find a friendly ear as easily as they have. The circuit has been the go-to venue for activist
state attorneys eager to freeze Trump policies on health care, immigration and other social
issues. It ruled against Trump’s weakening of Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate, as
well as multiple versions of his travel ban. It’s now weighing the administration’s
overhaul of the federal family planning program, the “public charge” rule that denies green
cards for individuals who participate in programs like Medicaid — and it could take up the
“conscience rule” allowing health providers to opt out of providing care on religious
or moral grounds. With Congress largely gridlocked, the rules often are the only way to change
policies, even if they’re often challenged in court. And transforming the judiciary to
make it more sympathetic to such an agenda could be one of the enduring victories of
Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that will far outlast their time in office. Trump has called the 9th Circuit “a complete
and total disaster” and a “big thorn in our side,” and some congressional Republicans
still threaten to break up its jurisdiction. But its changing ideological makeup could
wind up giving states like California less legal elbow room to challenge Trump policies
and go their own way in areas like reproductive rights and LGBTQ issues. “The 9th Circuit is a very important circuit,
and the presence of more conservative judges puts in peril all of American health care
reform,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), himself a former state attorney general.

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