One of the strongest legacies of the Donald Trump administration is the hundreds of judicial seats filled by Trump in his four years, including three seats on the Supreme Court. Democrats are eager to try to undo that legacy, however, and there are signs that the Biden administration is moving to quickly confirm dozens of appointees to vacancies on the federal bench.
CNN reports that there are currently 60 empty seats in federal courts, with another 20 judges expected to retire in the near future, and the Biden administration is “signaling that judicial nominations will be a major priority and that Democrats may even tear pages from Trump’s playbook on the issue.”
Some progressives, however, have legitimate concerns regarding whether the White House and the Senate will maintain the discipline and stamina necessary over the coming weeks and months to keep judges a priority as attention shifts to other areas.
They still remember that President Barack Obama came up short when faced with a similar opportunity early in his presidency, and they believe he squandered an opportunity to focus on the courts.Chris Kang, chief counsel for the progressive group Demand Justice, believes things will be different now.
“President Biden’s approach to judicial nominations is going to put the nail in the coffin of the conventional wisdom that Democrats don’t care enough about the court,” he said in an interview.
I’d say the howls by Democrats to expand the Supreme Court and pack it full of Biden appointees was the nail in the coffin for the idea that Democrats don’t care about the court. Unfortunately, they’ve shown that they only care about the outcome of cases, not the institution itself. If the makeup of the judicial system doesn’t favor the Democrat agenda, then the courts must be remade until the Left gets its desired outcome.
As CNN notes, there are a number of fairly high-profile seats that are either vacant now or will soon be open.
Judge Robert A. Katzmann, for example, who penned an opinion that would have allowed Trump’s tax records to go to a New York prosecutor, has announced plans to take senior status on the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals.
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who sits the US District Court in Washington and most recently oversaw the case of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, will also take senior status.
Another notable vacancy will come up once Judge Merrick Garland of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is confirmed as Biden’s attorney general. Democrats haven’t forgotten that Garland, nominated by Obama early in 2016 to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, was denied a hearing by Senate Republicans, who simply sat on the nomination until the presidential election was over.
The DC Circuit is considered a breeding ground for Supreme Court nominees and served as a stepping stone for Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as Justices Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Scalia and Brett Kavanaugh.
As for the Democrats’ court packing plans, Biden has announced a supposedly bipartisan commission that will consider changes to the Supreme Court, including term limits for justices as well as expanding the court from nine justices to a larger, Democrat-appointed majority. The makeup of that commission has not yet been announced, nor has there been any public discussion of a timeline for the commission to make its recommendations, but once those final recommendations have been released expect another full-court press on the part of the Left to demand that the Supreme Court be remade as a Democrat-controlled institution that will rubber-stamp Biden’s agenda and uphold virtually every gun control law that Democrats can enact at the federal, state, and local level.
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