President Donald Trump has now appointed nine of the 29 judges on the liberal U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, with the confirmation of Patrick Bumatay and Lawrence VanDyke earlier this month.
With those confirmations, Politico reported Sunday, “Democratic-appointed judges now hold a three-seat majority [on the Ninth Circuit], compared with 11 at the start of Trump’s presidency.”
That means Democrats might have a tougher time using the courts to block President Trump’s policies.
Liberal activists have used “forum-shopping” to file lawsuits in district courts that fall under the Ninth Circuit’s jurisdiction, usually seeking injunctions that can stop Trump administration initiatives, notably the “travel ban” (later upheld) and the border wall (still pending).
But those days may soon be ending.
In February, the Washington Post declared: “Thanks to Trump, the liberal 9th Circuit is no longer liberal.”
The conservative Federalist Society, which promotes originalism — the idea that where the plain text of the Constitution is unclear, it “should be interpreted according to the meaning that was fixed at the time it was enacted” — has taken a leading role in advising President Trump’s judicial appointments, including Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
The Ninth Circuit, with several vacancies, has been a prime target.
Vox.com recently noted that Trump’s judges are not only more numerous — at least at the appellate level — than President Barack Obama’s appointees, but also more qualified, and younger.
In response, Politico notes, Democrats are planing a new strategy when next they control both the White House and Congress: not only nominating left-wing judges, but also expanding the number of judges to eliminate Republican majorities.
South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has already proposed expanding the Supreme Court to 15 judges — though he has proposed that existing justices choose the Court’s new members.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.