A Conservative Agenda Unleashed on the Federal Courts

President Trump’s imprint on the nation’s appeals courts has been swift and historic. He has named judges with records on a range of issues important to Republicans — and to his re-election.

Comments: 290

  1. Who would believe that the land of the free would turn into a dictatorship?

  2. @Firatsf Given what people have done to protect it, who wouldn’t?

  3. @Firatsf when 60 million Americans prefer dictatorship because they are terrified of brown skin anything is possible.

  4. Great reporting, but I don't think the term "conservative" is accurate when applied to these radical right-wing ideologues. My dream is that the worst will some day be impeached and removed for violating their judicial oath.

  5. @Bobbo Correct. The Republican Party runs the gamut from the far right to the extreme right, and moderate Republicans are now called Democrats. There used to be liberal Republicans.

  6. @Bobbo Spoken like a true fan of the Spanish Inquisition! We should never impeach independent federal judges based on their interpretation of our Constitution. Justices Ginsburg and Scalia often held differing views and we are a better country for their service. There is no single "right" way to judge. Your "dream" is a nightmare.

  7. @Chris Marks I concur with your comments. Justices Ginsburg and Scalia disagreed strongly on many significant issues. Let us not forget that they were extremely close friends. Another very important thing to remember is that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice because of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

  8. As with many of our problems under Trump, you can consider McConnell equally culpable for obstructing Obama's nominations for years.

  9. The most depressing part of this article is the complete allegiance by these judges to the idea only impeachment regulates the president. The founders, for all their faults, did not want a king, which is exactly where lack of regulation takes the country, Trump, for example, is king. It appears to me that Fascism has come to stay, thanks to these authoritarian supporters, the Federalist Society and the Bill Barr cohort in the DOJ. While I note all the elite institutions attended by these political corporate allied Federalist Society judges, they lack the every day experiences of the persons they are intent on judging, e.g., the poor, the immigrant farm worker, janitors, and even middle class struggling small business owners. I await Jim Crow any day now. us army 1969-1971/california jd

  10. @KBronson I do not see Charles Schumer's name as one of the Trump appointed judges. So please explain the relevance to my remarks about the appointed judges. us army 1969-1971/california jd

  11. @KBronson - We know fascism. It is the GOP and Trump. Period.

  12. What will remain, once Trump and his republicans leave office, is a judiciary that lacks legitimacy and that most Americans should and will regard with suspicion.

  13. @Russell Already the case, no? Monopoly corporations and their mouthpiece GOP have created their own judicial system.

  14. This is one of the scariest aspects (among many) of this debacle of a presidency.

  15. @JH It's more like a "train wreck" of a presidency.

  16. @JH Indeed. Trump is a "noise machine" drawing attention to himself while the real dealings of extremist conservatism move behind the scenes. NYT and most of the rest of the media -- not to mention way too many of my fellow liberals/progressives -- get caught up in the scandal/tweet-of-the-day. The tear-down of regulations and the stacked judiciary branch are things that ought to be making the noisiest news.

  17. We know Donald. We know Mitch. We know The Federalist Society. So we know these people are, to a man and women, heedless partisan apparatchiks. We've been here before, though not in such outlandish numbers thanks to the traitorous strategizing of McConnell. What we, what I, have not been prepared for is the ignorance, the cynical know-nothing pride, the ugly drive for unwarranted power common among this horrid pile of new judges. Many can't find the table of contents in a first year law book, let alone care to try. Many are openly salivating over this new opportunity to force nasty, self-aggrandizing, un-American decisions on people still foolish enough to believe US courts represent anything at all like truth or justice. That's the greatest crime here. It will be a matter of months for knowledge the law is no longer impartial or evenly applied to filter to the street. Soon enough we'll all realize we go before a judge to be brought to heel, reminded of our sinful nature, deprived of our rights. When that knowledge becomes widespread all bets will be off. If our heavily militarized, uber-violent police think they have it tough now, just wait a year. Trump/McConnell have sealed our legal fate with the sick cooperation of the Republican party. We're at the trailing edge of America here, and these fake patriots are midway through delivering the final push. The Right thinks they're winning, but they're sowing chaos from which we will not easily recover.

  18. @John "Many can't find the table of contents in a first year law book, let alone care to try." But the majority went to good law schools. That is what is surprising. Or, am I missing something?

  19. @HFA Just the obvious fact these people have made themselves exactly who they want to be and no training, of whatever quality, has lead them to question what they're doing or its devastating impact on the country and the law.

  20. @John I'll believe there will be chaos when I see it. I don't see enough people with a sense of urgency about any of this!

  21. don't forget to thank Mitch and his buddies for years of pre-Trump obstruction on judicial appts. Only the Garland incident getting much press.

  22. Imagine after all the years that the Republicans have been whining incessantly about the courts legislating in this country, which of course was true only to a certain extent, now actively working to effectively create a legislative branch within the judiciary themselves. Republicans and hypocrisy, they fit together like peanut butter and jelly.

  23. @M.A.A When Republicans are accusing others of crimes or corruption, they are almost always just projecting their crimes and corruption onto others.

  24. @M.A.A But you ignore the upcoming Democratic hypocrisy when they complain that the republicans are now doing what they did. Where does that leave us ?

  25. @Norville T. Johnston I'm not ignoring anything. While there are some Democrats that might occasionally whine about what Republicans are doing to the judiciary in this country, it's infrequent and absolutely, without question not even remotely a top talking point for Democrats as a whole. Whereas prior to Trump you would hear, daily, incessantly from right-wingers, politicians, pundits, radio hosts, etc about the court's left leaning legislation from the bench. This is a major, major distinction. Republicans largely existed on this platform, among others of course. Democrats don't, and it's not even close.

  26. Anytime one has a democracy with all citizens having the right to vote without qualification as now in the US, we become open to demagogues such as Donald Trump simply because many voters are not as educated or well informed enough to make a good decision regarding the available candidates. Yes Mildred, we have voters that should not have the right. When the political parties had their smoked filled back rooms where they selected the candidates, a guy like like Trump would NEVER have made the cut. We need to go back to the parties selecting the candidates and dump this ridiculously wasteful and impractical primary system. Now!

  27. @NOTATE REDMOND Yea, we had gems like Harding, Coolidge, Buchanan, etc. as a result of smoke-filled back rooms. Perhaps instead of going back to that we can educate voters better.

  28. @NOTATE REDMOND The know-betters aren’t as smart as they think they are. I would consider a self sufficient pipe fitter who pays his own way and takes care of his brood more qualified to vote than an insolvent semi-employed college graduate voting to get someone to pay their debts. My father was a ninth grade dropout. He was and still is surrounded by stacks of books on history and civic affairs. I have 24 years of education and associate with college graduates from the “best” schools. Their ignorance about history and civics relative to my father astounds me.

  29. @Me And work to end gerrymandering and the electoral college. Long term goals to be sure.

  30. Mitch McConnell and the Federalist Society know that this is the last gasp for the rule angry old white men, otherwise known as the GOP, a party to which I once belonged. Instead of trying to broaden the base, he and Trump have doubled down and are attempting to influence the direction of our Country's judiciary for the next 50 years. I, like Bobbo below, hope that a number of these radical judges will one day be impeached for violating their judicial oath. That will only happen when we return Democrats to power in masse which will hopefully be soon.

  31. @Bobcb They did not attempt this. They have done it. The last gasp will last 50 years indeed.

  32. @Bobcb if they can't be removed, I hope they can at least be severely diluted.

  33. @Bobcb "this is the last gasp for the rule angry old white men, otherwise known as the GOP"... you must have blinders on! Republicans have the White House (executive branch), they have the Senate (the more important chamber of the legislative branch), they a solid majority on the Supreme Court, and are rapidly reshaping the federal court system (judicial branch). Yet you and others claim they are a minority of dying old white men! Wow, they are a pretty savvy group of guys! Now go ahead and tell me how it's all because of a rigged and racist election system (electoral college).

  34. Every news or opinion article critical of federal judges focuses exclusively on the policy-making side of the courts -- such as limits on abortion, immigration, etc. In such areas, the courts are empowered to make laws or, at least, to fill in the gaps left by the legislatures. While the public might have differing policy views than the judges who are deciding these cases, the legal issues in such cases are so unsettled that the judges have free rein to vote their own consciences. True, this means that conservative judges will set conservative policies and liberal judges will set liberal policies. One might not like the policy decisions made by the judges, but no one can say that the judges are being dishonest or in making rulings that conform to their personal political ideologies. In contrast, with regard to the vast majority of legal cases that do not involve unresolved political or policy issues left for the courts to decide, no news or opinion articles look at whether the judicial decisions were dishonest, for example, by ignoring settled law or misstating the facts of the cases. If they did, the writers of such articles would clearly see that many of these cases were corruptly "fixed" to favor a politically-powerful interest. So, rather than criticize judges for ruling in favor of their personal political preferences when interpreting vague laws, they should be criticizing judges for making clearly dishonest rulings in favor of politically-powerful interests.

  35. @politicallyincorrect No, they should expect congress to do its job and not write vague laws. Pass a law legalizing abortion and RvW challenge goes away. Why didn't the Obama first term do that?

  36. @politicallyincorrect Bush v. Gore

  37. @politicallyincorrect Such at the 9th District in CA

  38. The shame of the Trump presidency will fade with time. But the stain will persist long after he has been removed from office.

  39. One of the major reasons to vote for the Democrats in November is the U.S. Supreme Court. Several vacancies ahead, hopefully NOT, before November! Some of the Justices are hanging in there and on. Having the Democrats take control of the Senate is very necessary since the new justices rest on selection from there. Republicans will merely fall into line for Trump and McConnell. VOTE in November for better Courts with the Democrats!

  40. @Dog pal Hopefully not before January 20, 2021. McConnell won't have any trouble approving a new Justice after the election but before inauguration.

  41. So, you might say they are activist judges, then? Didn’t conservatives once complain about that?

  42. @Paul Corr There is a difference here. These judges will interpret the law as it is written , not as they want it to be written. Let's see how the Democrats react to these "Activist" judges as you label them. I'm guessing they won't like it and will call for some rule changes or other such remedy. Not to achieve a moderate position, but only to get the power back in their own hands.

  43. @Paul Corr And they complained about state's rights too; now where are they on that? It was never about the structure or about judicial activism; it was always about their personal agendas which are anti-democratic, race-bound, and money and power-driven.

  44. @Paul Corr Don’t be fooled by the Norville Johnston’s of the world. Most of these conservative judges are activists—and right-wing ideologues.

  45. The Democrats are dealing with the "chickens coming home to roost" syndrome. Democrats passed legislation during their Obama senate majority that no longer required 60 senate votes for judicial approval. Democrats had good reason to be frustrated with the Republican senate's (read: McConnell) hard-line behavior regarding President Obama's difficulty getting his nominations passed. But we are now living in an extremely polarized political world. What we have is political war.

  46. @Truth to Power That's a nonsense narrative. There was never any reason that Republicans couldn't have done the same at any point. Do you honestly look at Mitch McConnell and say "that's a guy who would never do that?"

  47. @Truth to Power Total nonsense. Republicans would have ignored the 60 vote rule, like many others regardless of what the previous administration did or did not

  48. @Truth to Power you don't have a 'polarized' politic, you have a democracy hijacked by extreme corporate wealth using their cabal of 'news' (propaganda) outlets. The idea of polarization is a nonsense. Mostly because it amounts to a divide between the gullible and the not so, in any case it amounts to a sideshow, a distraction.

  49. Elections have consequences. The Sanders supporters who threaten to stay home or vote third party if Sanders doesn't get the nomination should realize that. If they do this year what they did in 2020, there will be more of these judges --as well as polluters at the EPA, pro lifers and NRA people at Justice, fossil fuel people running the Interior Department, anti-union people at the NLRB and many many other people they don't like running the Federal government. But if that happens, we can look at the bright side of it. The Sanders people will have a lot of demonstrations, protests and marches they can go to.

  50. It's sad that such a national minority holds so much sway. It started with the Freedom Caucus in Congress who were described as wacky birds by Republican ex-Speaker of the House John Boehner. Their influence has influenced the Republican party at large to the extent that ideological purity and fealty to Trump are the most important criteria for re-election. Most Republicans already subscribed to this philosophy e.g. Sarah Palin, but it was usually moderated by elected officials e.g. George Bush Jr. Trump recognized the growing influence of the extremists and paid homage by giving them the judges they've wanted for decades. Trump was also astute enough to see that corporate money flowed like a wave in support of these judicial nominees who were generally hostile to workers, unions and government institutions. So not only does corporate America write our laws, it will now essentially litigate out of existence the ones they disagree with thanks to the courts. Something has come home to roost but it's not chickens, it's wacky birds. And it's not good.

  51. Yet Bernie supporters seem fixated on losing (again) and demonizing "the establishment". If Trump is reelected it will be with their help.

  52. @Topher S If the Bernie supporters will only vote for Bernie, and the Democratic loyalists will vote for whoever the Democratic nominee is, then if you wan to beat Trump, you are more likely to do it with Bernie. Its called math. I'm a Bernie supporter that would vote for Biden, but I can't promise that other Bernie supporters will. If you centrists are so wise that you will compromise your values to win, then compromise with the Left to beat the Right. You can't beat the Right, by saying the the Left is bad and the Right isn't so bad. The fact is that the Left is moderate and the Right is actively attacking the Constitution in every way they can think of. Are you mire interested in beating Trump or Bernie. Choose a side.

  53. @McGloin When undecided in the primary, I spent a long time talking to a Bernie supporter at a table; he impressed me with his knowledge and rationality. The next time I came to that table, it was manned by a Bernie Bro, who practically taunted me with his stand, which was not to vote for a centrist democrat, even if Trump would thereby get re-elected. That completely turned me away from Bernie. Blind.

  54. I think Trump’s appointments are outstanding and is exactly why I voted for him and will again. The US Constitution is one of the best documents written in human history, only conservative judges will uphold it.

  55. @Jimd how ironically un-American of you.

  56. @Jimd The U.S. Constitution is one of the world’s greatest documents. The conservative judges and justices tend to be right-wing ideologues. Sadly, most of them are on the wrong side of history.

  57. @Jimd France is on their 5th version of their constitution. We continue to use a document written more than 200 years ago. Have you noticed that when we install governments around the world through our usual nefarious means that we never advance the notion to use our system? Why do you suppose that is? Because it's a system that cannot function in a hyper-partisan environment. As we now see. The Constitution may be a great work, but it needs some work. And now.

  58. This has been the conservative/libertarian goal since Reagan. They have strategized the long game to gain and maintain power. Using media and religion to inflame rather than inform so they can dominate in local, state and national levers of power. Their #1 focus is to transfer governmental functions to private industry, deregulation and tax cuts for the few resulting in major hardships for the many. Trump is just following the playbook they've been using for decades. Buckle up.

  59. @wise brain inflame rather than inform that says it in a nutshell

  60. All of Trump's appointments including SCOTUS are illegitimate because the Republicans have stonewalled Democratic Presidents when it comes to the same appointments. When a Democrat is in the White House again and we turn this country around, all of these judges will be asked to resign, or will be removed, because the appointment process itself is illegitimate.

  61. The Democrats need to fight fire with fire. They must reverse engineer the courts in time to engender diversity and more liberal attitudes. This issue can be overcome with time. No worries there.

  62. So many responses here want Democrats to use "Republican Playbook". That just isn't going to happen. In my opinion the two are composed of two different characteristics. Republicans generally exhibit alpha male characteristics and dems generally the opposite, live and let live types with all that it encompasses in a civilized society: affiliation, compassion, consideration, moral compass. One with these attributes cannot withstand the blunt force of a win at any cost personality. A democrat's impulse is to avoid confrontation. It is a part of his upbringing.

  63. @Moen you have got to be kidding. See Dist. 9: CA District (the "legislative" branch) where 19 out of 21 currently serving judges were appointed by Obama or Clinton (one by Carter). So don't blame Trump for being political in his appointments and claim it is only Democrats. Naive. It is the name of the game like it or not.

  64. @Moen Live and let live?!?!? Dems have more litmus tests- to be allowed to be a DEM, than a chemistry lab.

  65. The Appellate Courts are now full of far right extremist partisans who disdain government and the laws created by Congress. Don’t look for jurists but people out for revenge and making political decisions not based in law.

  66. Who is surprised here? Trump ran on this issue and it's a reason why he was elected. People knew what he was going to do and he was elected. Given the choice we had, this too should not surprise anyone. Spare me the popular vote delusion. It is not how presidents are elected nor how campaigns are run. Trump will be re-elected and might get more than one SCOTUS appointment as well. The Dems are in shambles and won't beat him even though we see how unpresidential he is. Elections do have consequences.

  67. @Norville T. Johnston They certainly do, Norville, they certainly do. Things like ... the complete and utter destruction of the rule of law, the slide toward oligarchic autocracy, an entirely incompetent executive branch which we can now see in glaring relief just how utterly incompetent, a Senate that has abandoned any sense of duty to the constitution or even their fundamental duty to their office, trillion dollar plus tax cuts for the very rich with simultaneous concerted efforts to take away health insurance from 20 million Americans. Consequences, all right. Indeed.

  68. @Norville T. Johnston — It's a republic, "If you can keep it." The consequences are not supposed to include enthroning a stark-mad king, with unchecked power. Doing that requires a lot more than an election. It requires malign intent and flagrant abuse of power. You should not be cheering it on.

  69. @Norville T. Johnston Popular vote? You do understand that the Electoral College is a racist, anachronistic system, right? Trump wasn't elected, as you pointed out. How can he be reelected? Trump won't win either the popular vote or the Electoral College. People who didn't vote in 2016 will vote in 2020 to make sure that monster doesn't spend another day infesting the White House.

  70. Conservatives have been planning for decades how to shift this country rightward, and appointing young conservative judges, with many years of service ahead of them, has been a major pillar of their plan. Added to that is gerrymandering to impact the legislative branch, and the powerful success of having conservatives or very “moderate” Democrats as president for 50 years, none of whom have minded a rightward shift (in the name of compromise, of course). With conservative judges dominating the bench for decades and conservative groups engineering or backing strategic litigations, we’ll see lots of pro-business rulings (favoring arbitration, for example, undermining the right to trial), diminishing consumer rights, eroding civil rights, lack of procedural protections in criminal cases, and the rise of rulings allowing businesses to enforce their political and religious agendas (such as the Hobby Lobby case, allowing the company to omit contraception from their medical plan because of the company’s “religious beliefs”). And more decisions like Citizens United (allowing unlimited money in politics as “free speech”) will solidify this position for the foreseeable future. Given that the Democrats don’t have a plan to counter any of this (Exhibit A: all of the rallying behind “nothing will change” Biden), we’re in for decades more of a rightward shift.

  71. @Canyon Bernie Sanders supporters need to read your comment to understand the difference between decades of hard work to get an agenda enacted versus waving a magic wand at election time.

  72. It’s nice to see balance restored to the courts.

  73. Well, Mr Obama has his chance to make his appointments, and he did. It's Trump's turn now. He is a sitting president and can appoint whomever he wants. BTW, I have always voted Dem.

  74. @Adam yea! 19 out of 21 current judges in District Court 9 (the "legislative" branch) were appointed by Obama or Clinton (one by Carter). So don't blame Trump for being political in his appts. It is the name of the game like it or not.

  75. @Adam If you've always voted Dem, then you'd know that the normal process ended as soon as McConnell and the Republicans took control of the Senate in January, 2015. Obama had his chance up until the point when he didn't anymore. See Merrick Garland.

  76. The Senate refused to permit Obama’s nominees to be appointed, including a Supreme Court nominee.

  77. You just noticed? As I have said many times to my millenial kid, "If you want change this country, change the Senate." Of course, as part of this effort, Mitch McConnell has got to go. I think he may be the most dangerous man in the U.S.

  78. @EN Ask you senator, no matter which party to attend the annual reading of “Washington’s Farewell Address”. He warned about factions, which both parties are guilty of. BTY, when was the last time you saw the Senate touted as the world’s greatest deliberative body. It seems to have become the most rigid deliberately partisan body.

  79. @EN I think you are correct with your assessment of Mitch McConnell. I’ve always believed that he as been the architect for the destruction of our representative body in the Senate. One man from a mid sized state keeps my Senators and thus the majority of Californians from having our voices heard. The same can be said of the other states when he refuses to bring bills up for a vote and especially a hearing for a Supreme Court nominee. If people think that we live in a democracy, think again!

  80. @EN I will say of McConnell what I never say of anyone: the man is evil. He is evil because he deliberately harms democracy itself without a single qualm. He doesn't care who is hurt by his single-minded pursuit of power and money. The term "depraved indifference" suits him completely and it is the hallmark of a sociopath. There are many successful ones in high places attained through utter ruthlessness.

  81. The United States has turned itself into a country not worth living in anymore, incapable of reform or execution. I have made my piece with giving up my citizenship for a place that has self-respect, vision, and a desire to continuously improve and reform itself. Good luck to the rest of you; you will need it!

  82. @Matt Proud Dear Matt, I get your point about the US as a country "...incapable of reform.." but what do you mean by the country is incapable of "execution"? Are you a death penalty advocate? I also presume, you meant you had made "...my peace with giving up your citizenship..." Or perhaps you meant you have done your part to renounce your citizenship and are waiting for someone else to help you complete the process?

  83. The undemocratic and broken Senate should not be the body that confirms judges. The ability of a single corrupt person to dominate the Senate makes it highly dangerous to risk assigning such an important job to the whims of any one individual. Perhaps a joint panel of the House and Senate Judiciary committees with a a statutory two thirds requirement would restore some much needed integrity to the process. Continuing the current system is a recipe for a discredited and distrusted judiciary.

  84. @Robert O. Dear Robert O., There was such a rule that allowed the minority party to block nominations if they could muster enough votes to prevent the 60 votes needed for confirmation. Mr. Harry Reid abolished the rule in frustration with the Republicans who prevented most of Mr. Obama's appointees from being confirmed. That decision has turned the process into partisan travesty. I wish the Senate would re-enact the former rule to allow for real debate and action and not just a mob mentality railroading candidates through with a simple majority.

  85. That this has happened is scary. That it has happened so quickly is scarier still. That there were so many to choose from in the first place and so many more to choose from is a tragedy, albeit proof of American Exceptionalism.

  86. It’s really the Republican Party’s imprint on the courts. Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing.

  87. The fundamental problem here is that millions of Americans have been disenfranchised by the grossly outmoded political system established by the founders. It wasn't good back in the day (slavery, no vote for women etc.) and it is no good today. We are ruled by a minority and by corporations who have been granted the rights of people. The conservatives can crow now but the majority of this country being abused by them ultimately aren't going to stand for it. My concern with Biden and Dems in general is that they will repeat the errors of the Obama terms and fail to play the game as ruthlessly and hypocritically as Republicans do to win.

  88. @Thomas “Conservatives” vote for anybody who might further their “agenda”. “Liberals” stay home if the Democratic candidate has any flows. I would prefer to vote Republican, but those who are truly for the public good are far and few between. These Republicans are often called “RINOs” by those in power: “Republicans in Name Only”. I’ve heard that the statue of Abraham Lincoln is shedding tears because of what has happened to his party.

  89. Confirming hand picked ideologues from the Federalist Society has been the only thing the senate has done since 2017..... And this is priority #1 for republicans because its the one way they'll make sure no woman is able to get an abortion and that no people of color will be able to vote....

  90. A genuinely liberal open mind is not threatened by a lack of consensus or by open dissent. They are not threatened by a few people expressing their differing values by non-participation. Much of the left today is anything but liberal. It attempts to bully and threaten judges.

  91. @KBronson who is much of the left? Partisanship on each side is toxic to democracy

  92. @KBronson , bullying or threatening is neither an inherent quality of left nor right, everybody has their bullies and cranks. But how can you ignore the Bully in Chief; he’s perfecting the art. And he has a deplorable history of slamming sitting judges that disagree with him, especially “Obama” judges.

  93. Stacking the courts with unqualified people who are picked for ideological purity rather than knowledge of the law is not acceptable and has to be confronted. Law is about justice. That is not the right wing goal, sorry.

  94. Reform of our process for appointing and keeping people in federal appeals courts is long overdue. We can start with term limits for all federal judges, including those on the Supreme Court. There should be a more rigorous evaluation process for nominees (not just one run by the Federalist Society). We should consider adding two seats to the Supreme Court. We should find a way to limit the role of dark money in the nominations and approval process. It is often said that Trump destroys everything he touches. By this article, it looks like an independent federal judiciary has become one of the victims.

  95. Once the American people take back the presidency and the US Senate we must remove these far right-wing judges and stack the Supreme Court with young justices.

  96. @Sean Cairne: And how are you going to remove them Sean?

  97. @Lee Herring If the Senate and the House turn blue, it will work just as well to add some more to the bench. Or maybe it's time for DC and Puerto Rico to finally become states. Also kind of interesting to look carefully at the unique history of Texas through the lens of multi-statehood. It's time, I believe, for the Dems to stop being "decent". The new phrase should be "when they go low, we go lower."

  98. On the SCOTUS, Dems vote in a block far more than Repubs. Does that bother you? See how Repubs may have felt the same as you do now for the past few decades?

  99. Ah, yes, I vividly remember the article bemoaning unleashing the "wise Latina" onto the SCOTUS in this very newspaper. Not. Get used to it, both sides will pick the judges ideologically aligned with themselves. And both sides will only bemoan the choices of the opposition.

  100. @Dakota T Bull, due perhaps to your inability to recognize the difference between well-judged American idealism in the person of, for example, Sotomayor, and outright right-wing extremism as represented by many of Trump's and several of Bush II's appointments. Your "unleashing" shows you have bad judgement.

  101. This is simply called court packing.

  102. @Samuel This is not 'packing the court'. Look it up. The only recent court packing was done by Harry Reid for Obama's legislation protection.

  103. @Lee Herring It's two punches: 1. Hold up every possible judge you can while your enemy is in office. This creates an enormous backlog. 2. As soon as you get your guy in, unleash the floodgates. The democrats never did anything like that. But then, Mitch McConnell is a true pioneer when it comes to the cynical abuse of power and procedure.

  104. This is - and has always been - the end game, and why Republicans have put up with this embarrassment of an Administration. Because Trump doesn't know who any of these nominees are, and he lacks the basic curiosity to learn anything about them, he rubber stamps whomever the Federalist Society recommends.

  105. Lifetime tenure is not a workable idea anymore when people live 90 years and stay on the bench for life. To those minority and young voters not "turned on" by Hillary who didn't vote in 2016 as polls indicated, like they did in 2008 and 2012 for Obama, here's your enduring legacy. To those same people who are not excited by Biden in 2020, wait until you see what this country does to you for the next 40 years with 51 more ultra-far right wing conservative judges. Only kidding. I know you can't be bothered.

  106. @Me Older people crowned Joe Biden the candidate because, according to them, he is the most electable and has the biggest coalition. If neither of those things turn out to be true, and you're wrong (again!), don't hang that on young voters. You broke it, you bought it, just like 2016.

  107. @Me Which is the funny part. The young voters are the one that will have to live with these decisions for decades and decades. Well, funny but not really.

  108. Unless Democrats get a majority in the Senate and quickly move to obliterate McConnell’s legacy, nothing will change. We need more than Biden. His ascendency is very disappointing as would have Bernie’s been. But let’s keep the eyes on the prize. Total control of all chambers. A lot has to be undone.

  109. Abortion is already out of reach for poor women and girls. A Republican panel of the Ninth Circuit, including two Trump judges, wrote that the gag order on doctors informing patients about clinics was ok because there’s always the internet. Of course their precious wives and daughters will always have access to healthcare because if extremist Republicans are anything, they are loathsome hypocrites.

  110. Are any of these judges qualified?

  111. @Molly Ciliberti They are qualified per the far right ideological test of the Federalist Society.

  112. @Molly Ciliberti Unlikely if Trump appointed them.

  113. these aren't "judges" in the traditional sense of the word. they are partisan activists...and are toxic to our nation...unless of course, as James Dannenberg said in his resignation from the Supreme Court Bar yesterday you are "wealthy, Republican, White, straight, Christian, and armed males"...the only ones who seem to matter any more to the republican machine.

  114. "Mr. Trump’s appointments reflected attempts by recent presidents to draw the federal judiciary — a constitutionally independent branch of government — into policy debates more appropriate in Congress and the White House." Huh? What an odd statement. I'm old enough to remember June of last year when the Supreme Court ruled that partisan redistricting is a political question — not reviewable by federal courts — and that those courts can't judge if extreme gerrymandering violates the Constitution. https://nyti.ms/2KG81db

  115. After electing a new president, and securing majorities in both the House and the Senate the time will come for a major cleanup. All Trump appointees must go. That's given. Nominations to the Supreme Court should be revisited. Merrick Garland should be appointed instead of Neil Gorsuch. Brett Kavanaugh nomination should be nullified. All nominations that did not meet usual standards should be revoked. Judicial nominations made by a criminal are invalid.

  116. @Michael Bello, nice dream, and I like it. Still, we're going to have to go forward with what we have, not what we wish we had. Small satisfaction, perhaps: when Trump is defeated in November (let's hope) and Democrats regain both houses of congress (let's really hope!), Trump will face a variety of criminal charges and "stuff" will come out that may help cleanse the judicial system. On the other hand, all these arch-conservatives are in place to make sure that even if Trump is defeated, he has a soft landing, perhaps a sweetheart deal of immunity, or more likely someone on the bench who'll find an excuse to "totally exonerate" him despite any evidence to the contrary. No, all this won't end with his defeat, but it's a vital and urgent first step - and democracy's last hope.

  117. @Michael Bello So if the Republicans win the WH, Senate & House you will be okay with them removing all judges and the Supreme Court Justices appointed by Democratic Presidents? Perhaps a review of the Golden Rule is in order.

  118. @Michael Bello I agree, but sadly the Dems would never to that, they always play by the rules, and lose and then whine. Republicans don't play by the rules, and win. It's fine to be righteous as long as you don't mind always losing.

  119. When I was in law school in 1980, the Federalist Society was seen as extremist as the libertarian party or even communist party. It was generally occupied by a few members in each school that were viewed -putting it kindly - as quirky outliers. I am down right scared that it is now the source for lifetime appointed federal judges.

  120. @rd there's lots of Koch money behind it.

  121. @rd: indeed. These two entities aren't interested in non-partisan, independent jurists on the federal bench. Instead, they are looking for and training young judges to be right wing conservative ideologues on key matters coming to the courts. At its very heart, the Federalist Society want to overturn the bedrock Court decision, Marbury v Madison, which established the bedrock principle of judicial review. What they want is for local and district courts -- not the Supreme Court -- to control the judicial narrative over certain Constitutional mandates. One example: the FSociety believes that states rights should decide matters like racial segregation without the possibility of a Supreme Court overturning lower court rulings upholding segregation.I The current majority on SCOTUS are all graduates of the Federalist Society. Which means that the came to the highest court in the land predisposed to decides cases according to a philosophy that is grounded in property rights, the narrowing of rights of women and minorities, and rampant libertarianism -- unlimited gun rights, money as speech, and Christianity as the nation's official religion. This fine article documents nothing less than an organized assault on judicial independence, and a radical sabotage of the Rule of Law.

  122. "The last time so many vacancies had been left to a successor of the opposing party was when the federal bench was expanded by dozens of judges under President George H.W. Bush." Folks inclined to panic over Trump's court appointments should reflect on that quote from the article. There is nothing unconstitutional, or even unusual, about expanding the judiciary. It has been done multiple times. When Democrats assemble sufficient political power to do what they want with appointments, they can expand the judiciary again. There is no need to panic about the next election, just because you fear Trump's court appointments.

  123. @S.P. Republicans did not create new judgeships, they blocked filling existing ones until there was a very large backlog, the most flagrant example being the refusal to even consider Merrick Garland's nomination to SCOTUS.

  124. Oh yes there is a need to panic, S.P. How would you feel about a Supreme Court that might rule it’s okay for Trump to cancel an election? Then how would we add more judges?

  125. @Peter Aretin That's a separate issue from what S.P. is talking about.

  126. Wow, what an incredibly diverse group! White supremacy is a life-long appointment. White robes exchanged for black robes with a paycheck from the dreaded gub’mint.

  127. @Joe B. but it's Trump - are you really surprised?

  128. For those who are not excited about Joe Biden as their Democratic candidate didn't win the nomination, wake up and vote Democratic anyway. Presidential elections are not just about electing a President, it's about what kind of public policy, what kind of judges, what kind of justice and what kind of nation you want. Republicans want a nation of Randian Reverse Robin Hood Robber Barons shaping all the laws and the courts that judge the laws and the Congress that legislates those laws. Democrats want a nation that considers the interests of 330 million people, not just the 330 oligarchic billionaires that own the current Congress. Republicans are at war with democracy, the non-rich, representative government and the will of the people. Republicans are working hard at their tyranny of the radical right-wing minority. Wake up. Fight back. Vote Democratic.

  129. @Socrates I would vote for Biden ONLY because of the court appointments. In my opinion, he has nothing else to offer.

  130. @Socrates You're just now waking up? The Judiciary. This is why many of us voted for Trump in the first place. Rather than create law via the Legislature, Liberals are using the Courts. Ok, then it makes sense to appoint Conservatives the Courts. Let's get back to the Legislature passing laws, and the Courts not making law. The Conservative / Liberal debates belong in the Legislature and not in the Courts.

  131. @Socrates What? Democrats want a nation that considers the wishes of 330 million citizens? Please remember that about half of us voted to elect Pres. Trump to appoint new judges, among other things, so how about a little consideration for those of us who wish for judges that stick to the law instead of ruling in a manner that suits their personal opinions. And where do you and others come up with this nonsense that we Republicans are at "war"with democracy and the will of the people? Good grief.

  132. It's important not to generalize, to brand everyone a wild-eyed, right-wing incompetent just because Trump appointed him (or her). Trump appointees have ranged from the brilliant-and-mildly-conservative to, yes, the ignorant-and-downright-crazy. Some have had considerable judicial experience; others have had none at all, not even much litigation experience. To take just one court as an example, the four judges Trump appointed to the court of appeals in Chicago have proved excellent on the whole -- and I say that as a liberal Democrat. They're smart, and they write beautifully. Their decisions are well-reasoned. Their political affiliation does not make the outcomes of cases predictable. Prisoners and plaintiffs, the "little guys," actually win sometimes. The government and big corporations actually lose. But not all courts of appeals have been so fortunate. Trump's judicial appointments have been a bit like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates: you never know what you're going to get.

  133. Well you better hope the little guy never ends up in front of Kavanagh and Gorsuch, because it’ll big money, Republican donors over fairness and “constitutionality” every day of the week and twice on Sundays. For people who are ardent “constitutionalists” they have a remarkable ability to misinterpret every chance they get. Some of the framers got human rights wrong because they only saw white men of power as human and I guess that’s what these “constitutionalists” are all about. When you hear Conservative and Constitution, it’s code for: White men of power first, white men of less power next, big money equal to white men of power, and everyone else can just eat dirt.

  134. Lady justice has taken off her blindfold.

  135. There is a solution to the Republican's unprecedented effort to appoint partisan conservatives to the bench in an effort to tilt the judiciary hard to the right. When Democrats take the White House and the Senate, they should expand the lower courts and pack them with Democratic appointees. Democrats could also block any attempted filibusters by citing "the McConnell rule," which removed filibusters from judicial appointments. This would have a better chance of succeeding than packing the Supreme Court, since, as Sen. Feinstein said, ”Americans are certainly aware of Supreme Court nominations, but most don’t pay close attention to the lower courts, which can have an even more direct effect on their lives.”

  136. @DadInReston First, it was Harry Reid and not Mitch McConnell who eliminated the 60 vote requirement for closure on District and Circuit Court judges. Second, this idea that the Republicans are the first to come up with the idea of appointing judges who follow their politics is meritless. When my father was being vetted by the democrats (he was a Clinton appointee), the first thing they asked him was whether he supported Roe v Wade, which was followed by do you support the expansion of affirmative action and then stronger gun control laws. Both parties do the same thing when they get into power. Stacking courts (presumably you mean the Circuit courts) is a short sighted concept, much like Reid's. When the Republicans get back into power they will either dismantle what the Democrats did, or just follow suit. Elections have consequences, those who are unhappy with the makeup of the Federal Court bench should make their voices heard at the ballot box. Changing the system to meet your needs in the short-run will only result in people making the same mistake over and over (see Reid's decision above)

  137. @Gregg Duval It's naive, foolish, or dishonest (you pick) to think Mitch and his partners would not have eliminated the 60-vote rule anyway, just as they did eliminate the blue-slip rule to stop all Democratic Senators from having the slightest voice in the choice of judges. The Democrats have never stacked the courts with extreme left-wing ideologues. In fact, they have never even nominated even one left-wing extremist of any kind. It is absolutely only the Republicans who have been stacking the courts with extremist ideologues.

  138. "many of the Trump appointees have benefited from Republicans’ decision to extend a contentious and partisan confirmation path that upended bipartisan Senate practices." That's putting it delicately. You might have mentioned exactly what it was that was "extended" - which happens to be Democrat Harry Reid's decision to end the filibuster for lower court nominees. Republicans merely continued along the path set by that worthy gentleman.

  139. @HurryHarry —Use of the filibuster required observation of a norm, to be honored by both political parties. That was the norm that a sitting president was entitled to judicial appointments based on judicial qualifications, and not blocked for reasons of ideology except in extreme cases. McConnell ended that norm, and started using the filibuster to starve Democrats of judicial appointments. Reid countered by ending the filibuster for appointments below the Supreme Court, to get around McConnell's obstruction. That left in place the critically important bi-partisanship at the top of the judicial system—which at least meant that errors made below could ultimately be corrected. McConnell then lunged for the catastrophic option—abolishing bi-partisanship in the judiciary entirely, from the Supreme Court on down. The initiative for that loathsome, destructive cynicism is all on the Republicans.

  140. @HurryHarry And why did Reid have to do that? Because McConnell, in an absolutely unprecedented abuse of power, was blocking *every single Obama nominee,* regardless of merit; thus putting pure partisanship above the national interest. Our system was not designed to withstand this kind of bad faith. The Democrats had no choice but to act. Blame McConnell's cynical disregard for democracy and the Constitution.

  141. "That was the norm that a sitting president was entitled to judicial appointments based on judicial qualifications, and not blocked for reasons of ideology except in extreme cases." @S.P. - The ABA accorded Judge Kavanaugh its highest rating but Senator Schumer and others pledged to do everything in their power to block his nomination - and this was before sexual harassment allegations were unleashed against Kavanaugh. To counter that Kavanaugh was an "extreme case" would be laughable, except that to the Democratic Party every Republican appointee is an extreme case - and must be blocked at all costs.

  142. The lower court appointments is a merely preview of things to come. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 85 years old. Stephen Breyer is 81 years old. Realistically, we have to anticipate that their positions on the court will open up in the next presidential term. That's yet another reason the stakes are very high this November. If Trump wins a second term and the Republicans continue to control the Senate, then the only divide on the Supreme Court will be different flavors of conservatives. They may have some academic disagreements about what justification they will give for gutting abortion rights, voter rights, or limits on executive authority... but that's about it.

  143. @citybumpkin Gorsuh and Kavanaugh should be removed too. Anything Trump was involved with should go!

  144. Ever since the days of the liberal Warren court, Republicans have criticized judges for being activists who attempt to legislate from the bench. But what we have today is an unprecedented crop of young judges who make no bones about their desire to achieve, from the bench, certain contentious & controversial policy goals. A history of overt political activism has historically been a reason to avoid putting a person on the court. Under Trump, the GOP has gleefully discarded this principle, rendering our courts an unelected force for conservative policies which run contrary to the wishes of most Americans.

  145. 'they’re reliable policy agents' All the judges are, in fairness. Starting from Supreme Court, which gives an excellent example of that, all 9 of them, more or less. Trump has actually been rather shrewd there, in terms of using his prerogatives shamelessly, realizing that the law is a bit of second fiddle for the majority of judges. Time and again - we should remove lifetime appointments thus diminishing chances for things like this to happen, or to, quite absurdly, judge how firmly a supreme court nominee is on 'ours' / 'their' side.

  146. The wealthy have bought the judges they want by funding the fake 'federalist society' and brainwashing inferior minds into thinking they understood the 'intent' of the founding fathers. This is a constitutional crisis that was openly touted by lewis f. powell in the early 70's. Since it was an intentional purchase of the courts by illegitimate means, there is a good argument to impeach the worst of them once the Democrats regain power. Vote in November for freedom, liberty and transparency.

  147. So what we are left with as the overall population of America becomes more progressive is a bunch of conservative hacks, many of them not qualified, who will continue to rule through the years against the prevailing opinion of Americans. Perhaps as progressive politicians gain power, they need to seriously consider whether many of these judges are truly qualified for the positions they are in and decide to remove them from the federal bench if they are not.

  148. Liberal legislations will have to start again originating in the legislature and the congress will not be able to delegate governance and law making to the admin pseudo branch of the government. I will gladly abide by the outcomes presuming them to be the will of the people rather than the will of the people who know better.

  149. The conservative agenda is to apply the constitution and the law as written. It is the left that wants to use the law as a means to an end. The Constitution has a provision for amending it—conservative judges follow that and leave it to the people to amend the Constitution; liberal judges take it upon themselves, like judicial dictators, to amend the Constitution. Look at everything Justice Sotamayor has written for evidence of that. So the unleashing is actually leashing and bringing back judges to apply the law and to stop legislating.

  150. @ehillesum Nonsense. So-called "conservative" judges are absolutely driven by their idea of what society should be, not by upholding the law. And they are FAR more activist than any "liberal" ( which is to say, mainstream) judge.

  151. When you can predict the manner in which a judge will vote based on the president that appointed him / her, the judiciary risks becoming irrelevant. With Congress already irrelevant what does that leave? a strong executive also known as a king.

  152. There were 103 unfilled federal court openings when Trump showed up - and a Supreme Court opening - because Monarch Mitch McConnell decided to suspend the United States Constitution for Barack Obama, Merrick Garland and many highly qualified nominees. What we have here, plain and simple, is a right-wing political hijacking in broad daylight, a Republican coup d'etat much akin to Putin's fake judiciary in Russia where all justice defers to oligarchs....no peasants need apply. This is why Democrats, independents and Republicans with a conscience need to vote Democratic for President, House and Senate in November. This why we need to defeat the undemocratic Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and elect his Democratic opponent Amy McGrath as Senator. Republicans can't stand America or the will of its people.

  153. @Socrates "...Monarch Mitch McConnell decided to suspend the United States Constitution for Barack Obama, Merrick Garland and many highly qualified nominees." Please, tell us exactly which part of the Constiutution you think was "suspended"? Then, tell us why, if the Senate illegally "suspended" the Constittion, the Dems didn't do anything about it? Or why Obama, a professor of Constitutional law, didn't say or do anything about this illegal "suspension" of the Constitution?

  154. We now see the danger in letting an ignorant megalomaniac make lifetime appointments to such a crucial branch of our government, calling into question its independence and seeking to make the judiciary a mere extension of executive power. The American political right wing has made great strides in its drive to establish permanent governance by an unrepresentative political minority, a near coup. An entrenched right wing judiciary can distort future elections. John Roberts, for instance, has publicly expressed the view that the Constitutions mandates that only legislatures can effect election districting, hinting at the possibility of nearly intractable gerrymanders. Some remedy is needed to prevent our democracy from becoming a chrysocracy.

  155. I join others below in complimenting this excellent and comprehensive reporting. And of course, as a Republican - I rejoice in this outcome. While I may quibble about tiny percentages of differences between Obama, W and Trump judges - but the trend of adhering to the constitution and so called ”originalist” thinking - is most welcome. The article could have also pointed out that the 9th circuit holds a dubious distinction of losing EVERY appeal to SCOTUS. The immigration issues are the most recent - where they are batting worse than a pitcher average - actually 0.000 I was never an ardent pro Trump or a Never Trumper - but as a mainstream life long Republican - our POTUS has adhered close to Republican principles of law and order. And more importantly, to what the Chief Justice has best described ”calling balls and strikes”. In other forums, I urge fellow Republicans and others to reelect our POTUS - simply because of the radical impact he will have on judiciary in the next 4 years.

  156. Senate Republicans broke with constitutional consensus when they set out to rewrite the Constitution, taking the position to not even consider any candidate nominated by President Obama after Justice Scalia’s death February 2016; on the grounds that presidential elections were to be held November 2016, and only after new elections were held and new president inaugurated January 20 would they accept new nominees. This was without any precedent in U.S. The Constitution states presidential terms end Jan 20 after elections, not February before elections The millions of voters who elected President Obama had a constitutional right that their vote be honorEd up to Jan 20. In nullifying an important constitutional function of office, Republican senators blatantly swept aside the Constitution’s limits, robbing American voters of their election. Snd they also eliminated filibusters in Supreme Court nominations. This, if Democrats win the Senate, they must consider expanding federal judiciary and Supreme Court until advantaged gained through extraconstitutional means are nullified. Including totally eliminating the antidemocratic/autocratic filibuster - unless a new Democratic administration prefers to see new elections shot at its knees by another 400 Senate filibusters. Republicans broke Humpty Dumpty already. It’s too late to put it back now. Allowing the current status quo to remain only will ratify extra constitutional ill-gotten gains that will go on and on for decades to come

  157. I join others below in complimenting this excellent and comprehensive reporting. And of course, as a Republican - I rejoice in this outcome. While I may quibble about tiny percentages of differences between Obama, W and Trump judges - but the trend of adhering to the constitution and so called ”originalist” thinking - is most welcome. The article could have also pointed out that the 9th circuit holds a dubious distinction of losing EVERY appeal to SCOTUS. The immigration issues are the most recent - where they are batting worse than a pitcher average - actually 0.000 I was never an ardent pro Trump or a Never Trumper - but as a mainstream life long Republican - our POTUS has adhered close to Republican principles of law and order. And more importantly, to what the Chief Justice has best described ”calling balls and strikes”. In other forums, I urge fellow Republicans and others to reelect our POTUS - simply because of the radical impact he will have on judiciary in the next 4 years.

  158. @Neil If the President of the United States - the one in office currently - has ".. adhered close to Republican principles of law and order ..." -- well, that explains just about everything we need to know about the Republican party and mindset. Time for a change, and not a moment too soon. We are pretty much in flames now in terms of a functioning nation. Our democracy is just above over. And our future is dire indeed. Four more years of this guy? You really want the chaos, the actual danger to our concept of democracy, and the utter flouting of the rule of law? I never imagined that 40% of our electorate could descend to a level of nihilism that would absorb the last three and a half years and then ask for more ... but this actually appears to the case. Incredible. History, if there is someone left to write it, will not be kind to this era.

  159. I join others below in complimenting this excellent and comprehensive reporting. And of course, as a Republican - I rejoice in this outcome. While I may quibble about tiny percentages of differences between Obama, W and Trump judges - but the trend of adhering to the constitution and so called ”originalist” thinking - is most welcome. The article could have also pointed out that the 9th circuit holds a dubious distinction of losing EVERY appeal to SCOTUS. The immigration issues are the most recent - where they are batting worse than a pitcher average - actually 0.000 I was never an ardent pro Trump or a Never Trumper - but as a mainstream life long Republican - our POTUS has adhered close to Republican principles of law and order. And more importantly, to what the Chief Justice has best described ”calling balls and strikes”. In other forums, I urge fellow Republicans and others to reelect our POTUS - simply because of the radical impact he will have on judiciary in the next 4 years.

  160. @Neil Pretty good at the copy and paste function ... not sure if helps the case much, though.

  161. I don't call these conservative judges, I call them Republican judges. Let's be honest about what they are. They vote on the courts the same way Republican politicians vote, right down the party line, not the way the law directs them to. They are the famous "activist judges" that Republicans always used to scream and cry about. But now that they're appointing them, no complaints at all. It's just peachy.

  162. Actions have consequences. Democrats exercised the 'nuclear option' that required 60 votes to confirm a federal judge during the Obama administration. After that a simple majority of Senators was all that was needed for confirmation. Now that the tables have turned the predictable whining from Democrats and the left is hard to miss. Politics as usual.

  163. @Dan The Democrats had no choice but to remove the filibuster because McConnell, in a shocking and unprecedented abuse of power that prefigured his later abuse of power in regard to Merrick Garland's nomination, blocked *every one* of Obama's appeals court nominees, regardless of merit. Our system was not designed for these kinds of bad faith actions, and the Democrats were forced to respond.

  164. I never heard any complaints when the federal courts were overloaded with partisan liberals. They still are, although Trump has made inroads to balance the courts.

  165. @PLMD You are wrong. The right wing constantly complained about activist judges when the decision were to "liberal" for them. What a joke! These right wingers are more activist than anything the so-called liberals ever pulled. They are delving into all aspects of our personal freedoms-the right to control our bodies, who we marry, the ability to vote, and on and on. They are imposing their personal morality on the rest of us whether we agree or not. Wake up! This will effect you at some point and you will not like it.

  166. This predates Trump, and one person hugely responsible for this outcome is Ralph Nader. His self-absorbed and self-deluding run in 2000 was sufficient to make the difference in that election, and we are suffering the consequences described in this story.

  167. For all the Bernie supporters that think Bernie is going to generate a revolution or do all those wonderful things he keep saying on the campaign trail. He will accomplish close to nothing. Here is the list of the Republican/conservative "Wall of Defense." Throw in the Senate majority, Supreme Court majority and Attorney Generals from Republican States for checkmate on a Sanders presidency. Sanders' supporters were angry and short-sighted in 2016 and helped to elect Donald Trump. Sanders primary voters that switched and voted for Donald Trump. PA - 16%, MI - 10% and WI - 12%. This article should give Bernie Bros part of the credit: A Conservative/Bernie Bros Agenda Unleashed on the Federal Courts.

  168. The Trump appointed judges are so extremely conservative and politically partisan that they will threaten the reputation of the judicial system as being fair, impartial, and about the law. This will, in effect, damage the court’s effectiveness and may eventually undermine the popular will of the majority of Americans, who live in a more diverse America and desire a more progressive society that reflects that diversity,

  169. @IN That's exactly what the conservatives said about the Warren court.

  170. My inklings are that VP Pence has a lot of influence on Pres Trump with regards to stacking the courts with those who are in tuned with Pence's ideology. Myself, I can't see Potus caring about if women have abortions nor about LGBTQ rights. However, I can remember all of the hoopla VP Pence received for some of the controversial laws that were signed into Indiana law by him. To me its his way at getting even, while being out of the lime light, after all the backlash he faced being Governor of Indiana.

  171. President Trumps appointments have broad support among conservatives and Christians in America. Just because they are not supported by the left does not make these judges wrong. They will support and uphold laws that are important and embraced by a large number of Americans.

  172. @John Gilday A large number but not most. By any stretch. And as time marches on, the demographic shift will continue and the gap between what the majority of the country want and the minority want will widen. It will become untenable, and by some means or another, it will change.

  173. "Large numbers" does not mean a majority of Americans. It's a less than clever use of weasel words to avoid and obfuscate.

  174. The night Trump won his electoral college victory, I cried for my 17 year old daughter and two sons (20 and 22) and what their lives will be like once Trump and Mitch started filling the courts with people just like these. This was my worst fear of a Trump presidency. For those in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania who are the ages of my children and refrained from voting or voted for Jill Stein, I hope you have sleepless nights too. This will impact your lives so much more than mine. And I hope you will always remember why you are living in a country where decisions by courts don’t reflect the culture or will of the country. And your role in making it so.

  175. Tanya: “ And I hope you will always remember why you are living in a country where decisions by courts don’t reflect the culture or will of the country” That the courts follow the culture of the country would result in disaster. Judges, I fervently hope, follow the Constitution, which is graved in granite. Would you have had the courts follow the culture of the 60s? Your thought process is precisely the reason the electoral college exists.

  176. @Tanya You are correct. Most Americans do not even understand their state, much less the Federal court system. School do not teach civics anymore. I vote for the court appointments. Trump and his evil partners in this have been a disaster.

  177. Ours is a culture of perversion. I’m hoping Trump and decent judges can reverse that.

  178. It's twisted that the Senate has the task of appointing the judiciary. How do you expect to have an independent judiciary if the process of appointing judges is political and nakedly partisan?

  179. @Anthony Flack Read the US Constitution. That will explain our system. Elected judges would be a disaster. An alternative would be a Judicial Appointment Council, which some state have. But, that would take an amendment to the Constitution and this will never, ever, happen.

  180. @Rachel Which is pretty unfortunate. France, which started right around the time we did, is on version 5.0 of their constitution. We, on the other hand, seem to have a substantial number of the judiciary which believe that it makes sense to run our country using a document that is hundreds of year old. And not just judicial fundamentalists - even casual people writing in from New England are dead sure that our Constitution could "ever, ever" be amended. Probably correct, but is that a good thing? No. Why is it that whenever we engage in nation-building that we never, ever recommend the system we use to run our country? Because it's absurd to think that it could work in the modern era.

  181. @O Dear O, All we have to do is amend the constitution. Is been done many times. It does take an act of congress and popular vote, but we repealed Prohibition, what is stopping any other new amendments? Perhaps it is that some of the things you want to change are not that popular? The Constitution was not meant to be driven by any one person's opinion. But you know this....

  182. This is what comes from decades of the Democratic party ignoring the import of lower level governance and of the issues in heartland USA. A little more Midwest mindfulness, a little less gerrymandering, a few more statehouses, and we might have a Congress more concerned about the center of the country, both politically and geographically. And a Federal court system that is a lot more representative of us all. Hopefully, this lesson has been learned once and for all. Waiting for everyone to be disgusted by Trump may help us a little, four years later. But there's a lot of ground to make up.

  183. What I take away from this piece is that the game has been dialed-up, and I doubt that it will be dialed back down no matter who we elect in the coming years. We are in uncharted territory here, and we've been working on getting here for the past half-century. I believe that's worth remembering.

  184. Having never believed in term limits for either Congress or the Federal Judiciary, I now do. Two terms for US Senators, 6 terms for Congressmen or 4 3 year terms, but in either case, no more than 12 years in Congress for either Senators of Congressman. This will prevent the concentration of power in one party, person or staff and allow for younger members to rise, new ideas to gain traction and for a truer reflection of a rapidly changing society. And, to address campaign finance issues as well. As to the Federal Bench, a judicial appointment should be the capstone of a legal career and not the entire career. A judgeship should go to those who have practiced for years and have been in the trenches. Supreme Court Justices should be time limited to 20 or 25 years. Appeals, District Court and all other manor of Federal Judicial Appointments should be for 15 or 20 years. These judges are insulated from the trials of daily life in an ivory tower worse than faculty at a university. Deferred to and lords of their Courtrooms, they rule as they see fit. It is time to allow for turnover on the Federal bench, to prevent what is happening now and what could happen in the future. It is time to allow for a judiciary that reflects the society we have become: diverse, dynamic, changing, challenging. Lifetime appointments belie the ability of a court system to keep up with these changes. It is time to amend the US Constitution to make these changes. To make our nation a true democracy.

  185. @Rachel Funny how liberals are calling for changes to "the system" now, when they don't have the Senate or the Presidency. I don't remember these calls to change the system when the Dems were winning elections.

  186. Conservatism has a violent side. They have to have it there way every day and they are fueling Trumps authoritarian demands. So where is this a free Democracy. Our system of democracy has failed and when only one side gets to pick their own leaders and won’t share the power will only cause the end to our America . I am sure our founding fathers are very sad to see this happening thanks to our profoundly immoral Trump.

  187. If I was unsure whether President Trump deserved another 4 years, I’m not any longer. Thank you New York Times for convincing me that President Trump should be re-elected. Sounds like he is making the Judiciary Great Again!

  188. @BC That the ultra-right wing "Federalist Society" is in control of realigning the "impartial judiciary" is a reason to support Trump's re-election? Or, are you trying to claim that this group of people actually could be impartial? Please, explain!

  189. One of the biggest failures of the corporate Democratic Party is its failure to have enough power to block the appointment of unqualified, right-wing, Trump loyalists to the federal court and SCOTUS. Trump's judicial picks are incapable of and unwilling to respect the rule of law or be fair and impartial...just what you'd expect from people favored by Trump. I'd hope that if an ethical president and Congress ever happens in this country again, that many of these judges can be removed. And that would include Kavanaugh, Gorsuch and Thomas. Thomas' wife has long been a virulent GOP operative; he should have resigned due to conflicts of interest.

  190. Ever hear if the 9th Circuit? Fair and impartial? Ha !

  191. @steven david What makes them unqualified?

  192. The GOP enabled Russian coup hasn't slowed down like everything else in the country. You can be sure they are moving swiftly to destroy democracy.

  193. All Presidents select Judges who they think are competent and similar to their way of thinking. This is done by ALL Presidents. The authors have spinned and distorted the record of these judges to paint them as unprincipaled shill for the Republicans which is absolutely agaianst the facts. More than 80% of the judgements by the Trump appointed judges are in consonance with the other judges. The Author flipped over it's head the Truth which is that these Trump appointed judges overwhelmingly agreed with the majority judges. How about looking at the record of Obama and Clinton appointed judges? Their disagreements are very close to the Trump appointed judges when it comes to disagreeing with the majority judges. The Liberals and the Left never complained when we saw decisions by the Liberal Judges which were confounding and out of the norm. They NEVER complained. Not even once. But now, they are all in a tizzy. It was the Democrats who broke all the collegiality tradition of the Senate in choosing judges. They removed the fillibuster. So, the crocodile tears do not impress any one. Just remember the old saying," What goes around, comes around." If you forget that one, how is this," As you sow so shall you reap." Democrats are reaping the whirlwind.

  194. @Devendra They are indeed. But the problem is, we as a nation are reaping the whirlwind, and it's incredibly destructive. I suppose it's fun to gloat. But gloating among the smoking ruins of what was once a half-way decent country? Not so fun.

  195. @Devendra And the Republicans blocked HEARINGS for a judicial nominee in response, something that NEVER happened to Bork or any other conservative nominee. The question is whether THAT will come around, or be "reaped".

  196. All of the faces in the photo have one thing in common in my experience -- you can see the contempt in their eyes and expressions. How am I able to make such an observation? Because I have personally seen the face of a high-functioning malignant day-in-and-out for many years. Once you know one you can spot them a mile away. These are people who operate from a base of their own narrow and slippery worldview.

  197. @Misplaced Modifier Agreed. It is the arrogance that comes from reverse-engineering from faith-based reality (and they amusingly call it 'humility' in their churches). The left does this at its fringes, but the right lives it.

  198. This pandemic has highlighted the need for more progressive policies that would not only help the most vulnerable but have advantages for our entire population. Our nation has a much diminished sense that in times of crisis we are all in this together. Policies, enacted by Republicans, favoring the wealthy at the expense of everyone else, and reinforced by right wing judges, have created our current atmosphere of every man for himself. If there is a shift in policy and leadership in the direction of greater social and economic justice and these right wing judges stand in the way, something will need to be done. I’m not sure what that would be but a drastic remedy may be called for. I believe that ramming these appointments through without adequate due diligence after blocking many potential appointments by President Obama places a cloud on their legitimacy. 

  199. Recall, recall, recall.... Many of these were deemed unfit by the ABA.

  200. I was formerly an ABA member. I quit when it became obvious that the focus of the ABA was not helping its lawyer members in various ways (like most professional organizations), but rather pushing what were essentially left wing political positions held by activists in the organization who had been able to take over (a development largely supported by BigLaw partners who ran the group.) I recently saw that the ABA was forced to lay off a large number of staff and otherwise retrench due to a large and sustained decline in membership. Substantially less than half of practicing lawyers are now affiliated with the ABA. Guess I wasn’t the only one who decided to vote with my checkbook.

  201. @Airish While that may be the case, it as well is true that those deemed as 'unqualified' by the ABA were, in fact, unqualified, as any casual review of their 'credentials' would reveal. It doesn't involve politics. It does involve basic professional standards. That being the case, a PC ABA is not a good thing for anyone.

  202. @Airish: That was true even in 1980, when I decided whether to join the ABA. Easy call not to send my firm’s money to promote political (not legal-professional) positions I opposed. Someone’s reply to my post said the legal establishment is complicit in the politicization of the judiciary. Very true, but it’s almost all BigLaw and especially the professoriate taking left of center policy positions and the bulk of lawyers being too busy with their work to buck the establishment. The negative comes from voters, who are rightly disgusted with judicial usurpation—to the point that they will elect even a manifestly unfit person to our highest office in order to not be overrun from the bench in a culture war. Lost in the noise is attentiveness to which judges allow voters to make policy rather than impose their own. There is too much talk of the people’s voice from those who deem it valid only when it echoes their own.

  203. Trump and conservative agendas and ideals wins. Game over.

  204. @The Comandante Correct. Game Over. Decency Over. Democracy Over. America ... Over.

  205. @The Comandante You may have given up or ,alternately, declared victory, but it's far from over.

  206. This will be the one of lasting nightmares of the Trump years. The Federalist Society is still a fringe group. Their thinking is far from mainstream.

  207. Reading about the argument Judge Barrett used regarding protecting a felon's Second Amendment rights, I could not help but think about arguments AGAINST letting felons vote in many conservative states (e.g. Florida). The hypocrisy of valuing the right to bear arms over the right to vote among conservatives clearly shows the dubious mental gymnastics there "originalist" play. "Judicial courage" seems to me to be code for conservative activism. But conservatives don't want activist judges, right?

  208. The true hypocrisy is willfully ignoring the fact that both gun rights AND voting should be limited to non-felons.

  209. @sumit de But liberals do want activist judges, so won’t they be happy now?

  210. This has been in the works for decades. The GOP is playing a long game. Trump will be gone soon. They'll still be here. The GOP will wait him out & achieve their objectives. Their goal is to nominate 3-4 very conservative Supreme Court justices. Controlling SCOTUS is the grand slam that ends the ball game. Control SCOTUS & you win the Cultural wars. Control SCOTUS & you destroy the liberal agenda once & for all. If the GOP can pull this off they control the political agenda for another generation whether they win elections or not. Trump has gotten two SCOTUS appointments, he may get more. He’s moved much faster on lower-court appointments than Obama did. Republicans have confirmed 168 Trump-nominated judges, far in excess of appointments under Obama and Bush. Put together they form a kind of conservative judicial revolution that will impact all aspects of American life. This means Trump’s conservative imprint on the federal judiciary through sheer longevity will endure through cases involving state gun regulations, the environment, immigration, and abortion. The legal arm of the conservative movement is the best organized & most far-seeing sector of the Right. They truly are in it — and have been in it — for the long term goals. Control the Supreme Court, stack the judiciary to the sky, obstruct when necessary and you can destroy the progressive movement, no matter how popular it is, no matter how much legislative power it has. Nothing will get in the way of that goal.

  211. @Ed Davis This would be one of the most devastating consequences of a Trump re-election (although there would be many). There would be a high percentage he would name at least one, a 50/50 chance of naming two, and a possibility of naming three more judges to replace progressives/moderates on the Court. Our society will profoundly change, and not for the better.

  212. @Ed Davis Its amazing that so few people understand this!

  213. @John If this were to happen, there will be riots on the steps of SCOTUS, and rightfully so.

  214. What is a “conservative”? Is it a person who carefully looks at the facts to make a decision? Or is it a person who’s mind is made up and doesn’t want to be confused by the facts? I’m all for the first and very wary of the second.

  215. @Melvyn Magree Does it matter? Most of them won't even admit that they are "conservative" any more. They have replaced the term "correct thinking", so their opponents views are allowed to be considered.

  216. @Melvyn Magree: The modern conservative is far right and puts government power first and individual liberty last which is the opposite of what a true conservative believes. .Trump Conservatives aren't true conservatives but modern fascists.

  217. This is truly the most damage he could do. It has been mostly, quietly, done too. Everyday I hear people wail about what trump is doing. And yet, he has been doing this since day one, with not a lot of coverage, except for some glaringly unprepared nominees. And this will have a long lasting, decades long, effect on our country. The conservative Christians have been talking about owning these courts since I was a young man and Reagan was president. Oral Roberts University and Bob Jones have been churning out lawyers specifically trained in these fields of conservative bent for decades now. Just waiting for this moment. And now they have it. And we will all suffer from this pernicious cancer that has been propagated throughout our judicial/appeals systems.

  218. @JH Neither law school mentioned is in the top ten, from which a greater percentage of Trump’s appointees hail than is the case with the percentages of the five predecessors to whom the article compares him.

  219. @JH He is a constitutionally elected president and has a right to nominate those judges. What have your liberal justices done to help blacks that have been on the receiving end of the justice system?

  220. @Haile Selassie I guess you’re gonna show those ineffective liberals. By applauding the installation of a far right federal bench that will work to put blacks in their place. I suspect that black Americans will find themselves pining for the good old pre-Trump days. But it will be too late.

  221. So Mr. Trump has nominated as many judges as Mr. Obama did in eight years, so what's the story? The story is that democrats don't feel that conservative judges are as qualified as their own nominations, and now use the ABA, among other political organs, to justify their position. It no longer matter whether judges are qualified or not, only whether they meet democratic standards to govern via the courts, rather than legislation, which seems to make it awkward for democrats to get re-elected. It would be great if the NYT would cover the realities of the situations around us, instead of looking and presenting stories as "real", when they are in fact politically motivated. Democrats, unfortunately, have become so shallow and pretentious that they actually believe they support "diversity". What a joke.

  222. @DJOHN :This is hilarious from someone who supports Donald Trump's efforts to put far-right conservative judges on the bench no matter how unqualified they are. It is clear that Trump is attempting to shift the decision of the Courts from being pretty much in the middle to far right.

  223. @DJOHN It is conservatives who "NOW" use the Federalist Society, RATHER than the ABA, to just THEIR position.

  224. @DJOHN What is real around us? Look around. An executive branch that is so utterly incompetent that it defies belief. A senate that will put their own shallow interests before the welfare of this country and in the most cynical manner possible. And a complete disregard for any sense of actual reality, where anything can be turned completed upside-down. Like, for instance, your two sentences. It's Alice in Wonderland time ... and I'm getting so very tired of it.

  225. “The problem as I see it is not that judges differ ideologically — of course they do — nor is it that a Republican president would look for someone with congenial ideological preferences,”  Perhaps the only measure of a judge that should matter is how well they follow the intended meaning of the law which must be consistent with the intended original meaning of the Constitution. The states agreed on the Constitution based on a certain understanding at the time. Nothing that occurred after a given part of the Constitution can influence its meaning. Instead one must consider predecessor documents like the Federalist papers and the debates. in an ideal world we would not have partisan battles seeking party consistency, but would look for judges who follow the law which is what President Trump claims to do.

  226. @John Well, the original Constitution was explicitly worded to allow slavery in states that desired it. I suggest you cross the Atlantic shackled in chains, then try a decade of picking cotton, and get back to us on 'original intent'.

  227. @John This is nonsense. If it were so, we wouldn't have the benefit of precedents, or constitutional amendents. And not only that, but experts in the law who are far more knowledgeable than you or I don't even agree on the "original meaning" of the Constitution. The idea that one side knows the meaning and the other side is "radical" is a recent, ultraconservative invention.

  228. @John https://www.law.uchicago.edu/news/living-constitution I suggest you read this. Anyone who suggests the Constitution should be interpreted according to “original intent” or “strict constructionism” is being intellectually dishonest to enable a political agenda. Slavery. Women’s suffrage. Assault rifles. There are as many impossible problems with interpreting the Constitution in accordance with the Founders’ “intent” as there are interpreting modern morality in accordance with the Gospel of John.

  229. Most of these comments are hilarious. Conservatives win and appoint exactly the judges and justices they promised. They do this using rules put in place by Democrats while they were in power. And these comments then question the legitimacy of those appointed under the Democrats' own rules? Pull the other one, why don't you. If you want to see an illegitimate court, take a look at the 9th Circuit, the dream of every venue shopping liberal- cause lawyer in this country. Take a look at the reversal rate for that circuit of left-wing ideologues before criticizing the legitimate use of the appointment power by the Republicans.

  230. @xtra It's the republican agenda. It has dire, dire effects on the vast majority of people in this country, and favors the wealthy and powerful. The fact that the 9th is reversed just shows how damaged our country has become at the relentless, cynical machinations of the republican party. Are you happy with what they have wrought? The majority of the nation is not. They continue to hold power through such tactics as voter suppression. We can only hope that their days in power are numbered. If not, then our country is pretty much doomed.

  231. @xtra The Democrats had to get rid of the filibuster because Mitch McConnell, in an unprecedented abuse of power, was blocking *every single Obama nominee* to the appeals courts, regardless of merit. Trump's judges are not even selected for merit. They are selected for blind hard-right ideology and personal loyalty to Trump and his political interests. Yes, previous Republican presidents generally appointed conservative judges, and Democrats "liberal" ones (whatever that means.) But both groups of judges were, by and large, thoughtful jurists, committed to the law, capable of judging each case on its merits. Trump's appointees are not. They consider how their rulings can help Trump and his agenda. This really is something new in American politics, and something extremely destructive.

  232. @xtra Another Republican myth: that the 9th Circuit is wildly liberal, overturned at every turn. Rubbish. Absolute rubbish. Look up the statistics. The vast majority of Appellate court decisions, stand as ruled; those that are overturned, occur only fractionally more often than for other Appellate Courts. From the Wiki on appellate court reversals: "From 1999 to 2008, of the 0.151% of Ninth Circuit Court rulings that were reviewed by the Supreme Court, 20% were affirmed, 19% were vacated, and 61% were reversed; the median reversal rate for all federal appellate courts was 68.29% for the same period. From 2010 to 2015, of the cases it accepted to review, the Supreme Court reversed around 79% of the cases from the Ninth Circuit, ranking its reversal rate third among the circuits; the median reversal rate for all federal circuits for the same time period was around 70 percent."

  233. In November, we may purge ourselves of Trump, his henchmen and his collaborators in congress, but the ideologue-packed courts are his "gift" that will keep on giving. It can only be countered by a complete Democratic sweep of government, and even then, expect the judiciary to be at war with itself ideologically for the rest of most of our lifetimes. And, God help us, should Republicans win again, a right-wing rubber stamp for all Trump's megalomaniacal ideas is in place just waiting to codify all of them.

  234. During the '16 election, Republican voters (you know - the "stupid" ones) were far more interested than Democrats in how the results would affect the courts, according to exit polls. It was the first thing I thought of that horrible night. I certainly hope the DNC and eventual nominee learned a valuable lesson. One more "oopsie" election, and you will see at least one if not two more McConnell justices (Trump has very little to do with any of this) on the Supreme Court for starters - and it should be featured on a loop in all Democratic marketing from now until November. Good luck getting anything "progressive" accomplished with red state lawsuits and a radical right wing judiciary lending a sympathetic ear. It might already be too late.

  235. I don't recall seeing articles mentioning Mr. Obama's liberal agenda being unleashed on the federal courts. I guess it's OK if they are liberal, but not if they are conservative.

  236. @Mark Could you elaborate specific 'liberal agenda' details? Obamacare? Ensuring that a majority of Americans have access to decent and non-cancelable private insurance is hardly a 'liberal' agenda. What's another? You may recall Obama at first was against 'liberalizing' the DOMA act, until Joe Biden (of all people) pushed him into it. The law changed, the Supreme Court upheld it, and, to my knowledge the U.S. hasn't self-destructed, apart for the fact that Trump took office and we are now most of the way there.

  237. @Mark That's because they were mostly moderate. What conservatives today think is "liberal" was the old moderate normal. And what they think is "conservative" today are completely partisan defenders of the super-rich

  238. @Mark it’s because it didn’t happen. Many of the judges being appointed under Trump not only have not received ABA approval, many have never tried a case.

  239. Fundamentally white and male in the model of Mitch McConnell and older Republicans everywhere.

  240. Blame Republicans ... or maybe Harry Reid & a Senate dominated by Democrats who made it all possible with one decision. Swings back and forth between the parties are what has always happened, no?

  241. @Si Seulement Voltaire "or maybe Harry Reid & a Senate dominated by Democrats who made it all possible ..." True, but don't forget why he did it: the GOP senators began, for the first time, to reflexively and automatically filibuster every Obama nominee, regardless of qualification or judicial nature. They changed the process from principled approval or disapproval to political advantage-based approval or disapproval.

  242. And may all your Christmases, and most of your federal judges be white. If there's person of color in those photos, and maybe there are a few, I had a hard time spotting 'em. So much for diversity in our federal court system.

  243. The damage Putin has done to this country, as mediated by quisling Trump and his cult, is incalculable. The judiciary will lack legitimacy for a quarter-century.

  244. Especially for the young voters like my daughter who refuse to vote for Biden, no matter what, the specter of 4 more years of trump contaminating the judiciary with stooges that answer to the beck and call of evangelicals, oil companies and racists should be more frightening than covid-19.

  245. @John Mardinly Ask her to imagine two different Americas in twenty, thirty years, and ask her which she wants to see.

  246. This is deeply disturbing. More evidence why we must not elect Trump again. He must be defeated. This should be and should have been the front story for the past three years. We must defeat this president if we want our country back. Every news outlet and t.v. journalist should be leading off with this story every night. This is the problem, there are so many horrible facts of the Trump presidency it is hard to focus on just one. He is very good at throwing out other stories to hide what he is really doing. Con man, grifter and liar in chief.

  247. Way to go Mr. President...We love Ya !!!!

  248. @John Q Public that is why pres Obama didn't get to appoint as many since none of them were approved by congress.

  249. @John Q Public Why? How will any of these ultra-conservative judges help "John Q Public"?

  250. "Elections have consequences."

  251. @Sumner Madison Indeed they do. Terrible consequences in this case.

  252. @Sumner Madison The Democratic Party loses sight of that reality only too regularly.

  253. @Sumner Madison They sure do. We are living in an authoritarian regime run by a band of incompetent fools. Democracy is under direct assault and 35% of the people in the country couldn't care less. Consequences. Dire indeed.

  254. Again McConnell has to go. Good luck Amy McGrath, I give you money and will continue, that evil man has to go.

  255. Lovely piece, one correction - What is it exactly you think the Republicans are trying to “conserve?” It’s certainly not the environment. It’s certainly not federal funds, (despite how much they used to howl at President Obama about the debt). And it’s certainly not a way of life - America has long moved on from the social standards of the 1950’s and the economic realities of the 1980’s - that’s how time works. From my perspective, the appropriate term is not “conservative” - it’s “regressive.”

  256. @Braden Sadly, they're only concerned with conserving an American oligarchy.

  257. @Braden - Their paychecks! Contrary to popular belief, your run-of-the-mill lawyer in one of those fly-over states doesn't make all that much money. And I'm not sure these people rise to that shoddy standard. The public trough is where the action is.

  258. From a Canadian. Who fall over themselves getting left of left.

  259. Amazing! A federal judge who is not a liberal! How can this be?

  260. @James Ribe What do you mean "a" federal judge? They are LEGION, and they aren't just NOT LIBERAL--they're what a previous generation would've called FAR RIGHT. Only we can't see that now, because so few people are left alive who can even remember when the Republican Party had any moderate elements in it.

  261. @James Ribe Some of them are no more fit for the office they now hold than Trump is for his. You might wish to consider the value of that before becoming triumphant.

  262. It shouldn't be down to being a liberal or a conservative, it should come down to respecting jurisprudence, caselaw, and Supreme Court caselaw. These radical rightists with their ridiculous "Originalist" ideas are intent on discarding centuries of jurisprudence and remaking it to the directions of the Federalist Society.

  263. Republicans have cared about the Supreme Court for decades and built a deeply researched bench of candidates, determined to avoid another Souter, whether in the Supreme Court or at the Appellate level. One only has watch the national moratoriums liberal judges issue from their local circuits to understand why Republicans are determined to replace as many of these judicial dictators as possible.

  264. @Chris Let us hope the president does as well in his second term.

  265. @Chris Ah, the old activist liberal judges canard. The Roberts Court is the most activist partisan Court in history.

  266. With judicial dictators of their own....

  267. This tremendous piece exposes what will prove to be the original Quid Pro Quo on which all others were based: Faced with the added inducement of potential backlash from Trump's base, Congressional Republicans were willing to trade their sense of ethics and violate their oaths of office in exchange for President Trump presenting them with an assembly line - an army - of very young, extreme, Federalist Society approved Federal Judge appointees.

  268. @Mark Keller The GOP had determined this course of action long before Trump. He just told them he would appoint whomever they wished in exchange for free reign on his wall.

  269. @nora m Yes, indeed! Many have laid the groundwork for President Trump, including people like Lee Atwater, Newt Gingrich, Danny Hastert, Karl Rove, And Obama’s obstructor-in-chief, Mitch McConnell. They all have known that republican policies are unpopular, and so they dismantled every tradition of fair play in democracy that stood in their way.

  270. Meanwhile the Democrats will fight among themselves over purity test, identity politics and when they win will not push through legislation that is focused on the long game.

  271. It's what Charlie Sykes from The Bulwark (look them up, it's a great site) called "the circular firing squad". The Dems wasted all the debates taking shots at each-other; meanwhile, Trump continued, and continues still, to burn your nation to the ground.

  272. There are a handful of situations which remind us of the dire consequences of electing a person to the presidency who is unfit by intellect, personality and character for the office. We are experiencing such a situation right now with the coronavirus pandemic, which has been botched badly by President Donald Trump. The more common example of how putting the wrong person in the White House adversely affects history occurs when the president and the Senate are in the same political party, and there are vacancies in the federal judiciary. Donald Trump continues to be the poster boy for plaguing the nation with highly political federal judges. What is unique in the case of Donald Trump is the fact that his selections are not based upon his ideology, since for practical purposes Trump has no ideology. Donald Trump is interested only in having judges who will protect him personally, at all costs

  273. There's something wrong with a system that allows 20% of the population to stack the courts with extreme ideologues. The fact that there isn't a less partisan method of appointing judges plus the fact that many of Trump's appointees were considered unqualified by the ABA is shocking and upsetting. I'm not sure how it can be changed when 1 side would never consider it. A small consolation is the fact that FDR passed much of the New Deal with an activist right wing SCOTUS!

  274. @Bosox rule There was a less partisan way, requiring 60 votes in the Senate for approval of judges, but, very unfortunately, Democrats did away with it and McConnell has been taking advantage of it ever since.

  275. @Bosox rule Be honest. Your problem is not with "a system that allows 20% of the population to stack the courts with extreme ideologues." Your real problem is that currently, those ideologues are being selected by the conservative 20%, rather than the liberal 20%. Liberals had no problem with this system in the 60s and early 70s with the Warren Court.

  276. @Bosox rule Yes, and major pieces were declared unconstitutional which is why he tried to add new court members and pack it. There is a major problem in America and why it is a country falling apart. The rural vote control through the Electoral College, the courts packed with members from total areas that have less than 40% of the population. Like the cracks on Wall Street blamed on the virus not true, the cracks in the entire country the fissures are starting to open large. The US won't exist in 10 years. Good!

  277. We need to start a campaign of civil disobedience. For the sake of justice anyone who is being tried before a Trump judge should ask the judge to recuse himself/herself because of pathological bias. If they protest just make clear that such bias was what was being selected for in the first place.

  278. The authors of this article are assuming that most or all of these appointees will rule in completely partisan (read ultra-conservative) ways. Partisan opinions aside, if any of these judges behave in an unethical manner, they can potentially be impeached. Apparently, the Constitution is vague on grounds for impeachment of Federal judges, but it's entirely possible that impeachment could take place because of partisan politics, should the makeup of the House and Senate lean overwhelmingly liberal after the next election. I believe the Founding Fathers did everything they could to avoid extreme partisanship in the courts, but knew it would happen anyway, people being what they are.

  279. @LJMerr When was the last time a Federal judge was impeached and removed from the bench. Gee, as much chance of that as the President, but it makes people believe they have power when the reality it they don't. Does look nice on paper though.

  280. The only reason they were appointed was to rule in favor of the far right. At this point, I don’t know why anybody would give this administration the benefit of doubt about anything. They are the worst they can be.

  281. @LJMerr Let's hope so!

  282. Oh, come on. How could a raft of federal judges selected by trump (or, more accurately, the Federalist Society) and confirmed by the Senate Republicans not be good for the country? Unless maybe anybody thinks going back to the 1950s, much less the 1920s, is a good idea.

  283. @Innocent Bystander I honestly wouldn’t mind to a certain degree.

  284. Some readers write as though this change on the federal courts came out of nowhere. It did not. After a third of a century, McConnell and other Republican Senators still remember the name of Robert Bork. In 1985, when Reagan nominated Scalia to the High Court, the Senate confirmed him 97 to 0. Two years later, when Reagan nominated Bork, it rejected him 58 to 42. This, even though Bork, like Scalia, had world class legal credentials - Yale law prof at 35, Solicitor General of the US, federal appellate judge. Further, he would have been a sure bet to overrule Roe v. Wade at the first opportunity. Yet four years later, once Anthony Kennedy was on the Court, he joined the liberals to form a bare majority to uphold the core of Roe. If Trump is reelected, he may well replace RBG and Breyer with brilliant conservative thirty somethings. Roe would then be on the chopping block. Of all things, then, notwithstanding its public health and economic consequences, the corona virus may be exactly the kind of crisis required to defeat Trump, i.e., to shake enough people in red and purple states into recognizing that he is completely unfit to lead in a real emergency. This, in turn, could stop the hemorrhaging on the federal courts.

  285. @John Robert Bork was turned away from the Supreme Court 52 - 48 because he fired Special Counsel Archibald Cox - who was investigating Nixon - after both Attorney General Elliot Richardson, and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus refused to do so at Nixon's orders. They both served the country rather than Nixon, and resigned. Bork did neither. Full stop.

  286. @John You inadvertently give the lie to your your very point. Scalia was approved 97 to 0 because he was correctly viewed as a formidable legal mind of right. Bork was correctly rejected for many things, but the most important 2 of which include: agreeing to fire Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox (i.e. showing himself to be a political stooge of Richard Nixon), and promoting the belief that money and free speech were one and the same, and thereby any regulations on use of money for political purposes was fundamentally viewed as a violation of the Constitution. The guy was an arrogant and self-pitying crackpot who had no business sitting on the bench. That people on the right continue to consider this man a cause celebre pretty much says it all.

  287. @John No matter how much one believes that abortion is and should be a right, it could be only be “read” into the constitution with any minimal fealty to the integrity of law and language by ultimately resting on “ because I want it to be.” Bork pointed that out, stating that such matters where the constitution is silent should not be decided by the courts as constitutional matters but left to the political branches to fight about. The reason Roe v Wade is underlying every SCOTUS nomination is because it was bad law in the first place. It is bad law because it is not grounded in law, but in desire. Abortion advocates took a shortcut around politics and the country has been paying a price for near 50 years. Don’t like immigration law—don’t change it in Congress, get a court order. It has poisoned everything.

  288. Federal judges long ago stepped outside their traditional judicial role into policy-making, and judicial appointments became policy battlegrounds. Democrats have since experienced plenty of “be careful what you wish for” policy-making from the other side’s picks on the bench, just as Republicans have. It is neither surprising nor wrong that when judges are chosen in what has become a hyper-partisan process, the administration wants to know their principles and willingness to stand for them. “These are my principles. And if you don’t like them, I have others” does not suggest judicial character, but instead a politician. Each side wants and now mostly gets doctrinaire supporters of its positions who cannot be voted out because, as judges, they supposedly are just construing law rather than making it. To have a legitimate complaint about the other side’s judges being political actors, you must not have been striving for that in your own picks.

  289. @Jack , The legal profession has allowed a part of it, including bar associations, law professors, and even some judges, to confuse the function of law with that of politics. Perhaps members of the profession need to clarify the distinction among themselves. If it is all politics, why do we need bar associations, law professors instead of politicians, or even judges?

  290. @Jack As a counterpoint, the Dems didn't select extreme Leftist judges in previous decades -- yet that is exactly what you seem to be suggesting to explain why it is "OK" for the Repubs to select extremists with Trump as President. I am not sure your argument tracks and it reads revisionist.