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Trump’s Real Personnel Victory: More Conservative Judges

While the tragicomic fall of Anthony Scaramucci was playing out at the White House on Monday, the mood was business as usual at the Capitol. There, the Senate was dealing with its own kind of personnel matter, one that, in the larger scheme, probably matters more than who happens to be the White House communications director of the week. To little notice, and with no fanfare, the Senate moved toward confirming another of President Trump’s appointees to a lifetime seat on the federal Court of Appeals.

In the early evening, the Senate voted to close debate on Kevin Newsom, the nominee for the Eleventh Circuit. His actual confirmation, which is now a foregone conclusion, will take place in the next few days. Newsom resembles many Trump nominees to the federal bench. He has excellent formal qualifications, including a degree from Harvard Law School, a Supreme Court clerkship, and a stint as the solicitor general of Alabama, where he excelled at defending the state’s imposition of capital punishment against legal challenges. Most notably, Newsom is also young for a federal judge—just forty-five—and a political conservative, as evidenced by his membership in the Federalist Society. (Earlier this year, I wrote about the role of the Federalist Society, and one of its leaders, Leonard Leo, in stage-managing Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch.) In light of his age, Newsom will likely serve for decades after the Trump Presidency has concluded.