By Nelson Prince AMAC Magazine
Vol 13 Issue 2
On February 13, 2016, the American people awoke to the unfortunate news that 79-year-old Justice Antonin Scalia unexpectedly passed away while on a hunting trip in Texas. A stalwart conservative, celebrated for his sharp legal mind and unfailing sense of humor, Justice Scalia left a lasting and indelible mark on the Supreme Court for generations to come. However, as the 2016 Presidential Election entered its final stages, and as the American people prepared to elect a new president, the legacy and future of the Supreme Court became a major focal point of the 2016 election.
Then-candidate Trump, for the first time in US Presidential election history, produced a list of names he would pick from in nominating a replacement to the late, great Antonin Scalia. Concurrently, then-President Barack Obama nominated DC Circuit Judge Merrick Garland to fill Justice Scalia’s vacancy. Following Judge Garland’s nomination, and the release of President Trump’s list of potential picks to fill the spot on the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court was on the 2016 Presidential ballot just as much as Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
We all remember President Trump’s historic upset on November 8, 2016. Even more importantly we remember that President Trump kept his promise to nominate and confirm a judge from the list he released during the campaign. Eleven days after his inauguration, President Trump kept his promise and nominated Justice Neil Gorsuch of the 10th Circuit to fill Justice Scalia’s vacancy. Following complete Democratic obstinacy to his nomination, Senate Republicans invoked the ‘Nuclear Option’ to end filibusters for Supreme Court nominees, and Justice Gorsuch was confirmed to the High Court by a vote of 54-45.
Just a few months later, Justice Anthony Kennedy shocked the world when he announced that he would retire from the Supreme Court after 30 years of service. President Trump, yet again, delivered on his 2016 campaign promise to nominate a qualified replacement from the aforementioned list. On July 9, 2018, President Trump nominated DC Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy. Following a tumultuous confirmation process (to put it nicely) Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Court on October 6, 2018 by a vote of 50-48.
While the Supreme Court has occupied the public mind for the last two years of the Trump Presidency, many Americans are unaware of how much President Trump has done to restore the Judicial Branch to its rightful place as a co-equal branch of government. President Trump has nominated and appointed several Constitutionalist judges at every level of the Federal Judiciary, from the High Court, to the circuit courts, to the district courts, to the military courts, to the tax courts. As Washington, DC embroils itself in controversy after controversy, President Trump continues to nominate, and Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) continues to confirm dozens of judges who are committed to the Constitution and rule of law.
At the end of the first two years of the Trump administration, President Trump has nominated, and Leader McConnell has confirmed 92 judges across the federal judiciary, including two Supreme Court Justices, 30 Circuit Court judges, 53 District Court judges, and several other administrative and military judges. In fact, President Trump has far outpaced any of his other predecessors in nominating judges to the federal circuit courts. Think about this, five of the country’s 12 Circuit Courts are now occupied by more than 25-percent of Trump appointed Judges - twenty-five percent.
Most recently, on January 23, 2019, President Trump renominated 51 old judicial nominations from the previous Congress – including two nominations to the notoriously “liberal” Ninth Circuit Court. With Republicans in firm control of the Senate, and with President Trump eyeing the 140+ vacancies still remaining at all levels of the federal judiciary, we can expect both the President and the Senate to continue their tireless work on restoring the Judiciary to its equal, constitutional footing with the other branches of government.
As we head into the 2020 election cycle, it’s anyone’s guess as to what will happen. But, one thing is certain; President Trump will leave a lasting imprint on the Federal Judiciary for generations to come. With strong, dedicated, and Constitutionally-minded judges on every bench in the United States, President Trump will be remembered for his commitment to the Constitution and a return to the rule of law.