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In mid-February The NY Times noted Trump’s opportunity, though the reaction from the Democratic base has been somewhat muted on that, perhaps because they are fixated on Gorsuch:
In the weeks since taking office, President Trump has derided court decisions as “ridiculous” and “disgraceful,” called the legitimacy of federal judges into question and encouraged people to blame the courts in the event of another terrorist attack.
But Mr. Trump could soon find himself responsible for appointing a greater share of federal court judges than any first-term president in 40 years, in large part because of a growing number of older judges and a stack of vacancies on the federal courts.
The lower courts matter tremendously, as was evidenced in the decisions freezing Trump’s immigration executive orders. The Times noted the stats:
While the lower courts attract a fraction of the public’s attention, they represent most of the federal docket. Only 15 percent of cases ever move past a district court judge to the circuit courts. Of these, only a tiny fraction make their way to the Supreme Court.
Even the Times scare-mongering about the role of the Federalist Society in helping Trump select nominees does not seem to have awakened the Democratic base:
Most Americans have probably never heard of Leonard A. Leo, who has long served as executive vice president of the Federalist Society, an organization of conservatives and libertarians who “place a premium on individual liberty, traditional values and the rule of law.” But as Mr. Trump begins the process of filling what could be the most federal court vacancies left to any president in nearly a half-century, Mr. Leo is playing a critical role in reshaping the judiciary.
He sits at the nexus of an immensely influential but largely unseen network of conservative organizations, donors and lawyers who all share a common goal: Fill the federal courts with scores of judges who are committed to the narrow interpretation of the Constitution that they believe the founders intended.
Democrats having removed the filibuster in 2013 for lower court nominations opened the door for Trump to fill these seats quickly, Dems’ Nuclear Option will allow Trump to fill over 100 court vacancies quickly.
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