Senate Republicans are confirming so many of President Donald Trump’s nominees to lifetime federal court seats, it’s hard to keep up. Who are these people? What difference will they make in my life, anyway?
You’re in luck: We’re going to break it down here!
Two and a half years in, what stands out about Trump’s confirmed judges isn’t just the quantity, which is remarkable ― two Supreme Court justices, a record-breaking 43 appeals court judges and 99 district court judges.
It’s that a chunk of his judges shouldn’t be on the bench at all because they aren’t qualified or they’re so ideologically extreme that it’s next to impossible to imagine them as fair arbiters of justice. These judges are now on federal courts at every level, from the Supreme Court to appeals courts, which have the final say in nearly all federal cases, down to district courts, where these cases are first filed. For the appeals court judges in particular, the decisions these people make will affect you and millions of other people for generations.
“It is important for the public to appreciate that appeals court appointees serve on courts that are the courts of last resort for 99.9% of cases in their regions of the U.S. on issues like capital punishment, abortion, same-sex marriage, immigration, etc.,” said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor and an expert on federal judicial nominations. “The key is they resolve 50,000 cases per year and the Supreme Court resolves 100.”
Here’s a snapshot of Trump’s most alarming judges to date. Incredibly, all but one (Wendy Vitter) is or was a member of the Federalist Society, a conservative lawyers’ group that has effectively been picking Trump’s judicial nominees for him. There is a clear theme to these judges, too: They have records of being anti-LGBTQ, anti-abortion and anti-voting rights.