We can debate how well President Trump is handling internal White House politics, how much of the Obamacare repeal failure is his fault, and how badly the Russian collusion investigation is hurting his ability to govern, but beneath this surface-level view of the administration, there is still ample room for conservatives to be grateful that he won the election. And one of the biggest wins of the Trump era is his rapid, steady approach to nominating federal judges to the bench.
When it comes to the judiciary, Trump’s biggest and most publicized victory was his nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. That alone justified the Trump presidency, even if there are still conservative detractors loathe to admit it. With Gorsuch on the bench, the nation’s highest court will be free of liberal control for years to come, ensuring the security of the Constitution and the ongoing health of the republic. Its importance cannot be overstated, and the early indications are that Gorsuch will live up to even the highest expectations conservatives had for him. If Trump were to be impeached tomorrow, Gorsuch’s nomination and confirmation alone would make for a fine, lasting legacy.
But it is beneath this well-reported level that Trump has had some of his most sustained, important political victories. By this time in Obama’s first term, the Democrats had only managed to fill a handful of federal judgeships. Trump, on the other hand, is making quick work of the many vacancies. Already, when you include U.S. Attorneys, Trump has nominated 55 people to the judiciary, and Republicans in the Senate are doing an admirable job of pushing them through. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that (thanks to a decision by the Democrats in 2013) the GOP can confirm each of these judges with only Republican votes.
“The Trump administration has moved faster on filling judicial vacancies compared to the past administrations, thanks to its commitment to working with and extensively consulting all senators, regardless of political affiliation, to select high-caliber nominees,” said White House spokesperson Kelly Love.
Even so, Democrats have managed to do some damage. Thanks to “blue-slip” rules that allow the senators from any given state to unilaterally block federal judgeship nominations within their constituency, the opposition party has stalled or blocked more than two dozen nominees, many of whom are highly qualified and uncontroversial.
Of course, the Democrats are still sore about Gorsuch’s nomination and the corresponding loss of Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland. So they’re hoping to fight back when it comes to the lower courts and preserve the relative stranglehold liberals have on the judiciary. It won’t work forever, since Democrat voters simply don’t have a lot invested in the court systems, unlike Republicans. If Republicans begin to, cough-cough, make a federal case out of the party’s obstruction, they may be able to knock Democrats off their high horse.
Until that time, we’re happy to see that Trump is making headway on this invaluable issue.