One of the undeniable conservative achievements of a not-particularly-conservative President Trump has been changing the character of the federal judiciary. The cooperation between the White House counsel’s office in vetting nominees and the bloody-mindedness of Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley in ramming those nominees through the system resulted in record-setting year for judicial confirmations and those confirmed judges were overwhelmingly young(ish) and conservative.
Two years into his presidency, Donald Trump has inflicted unimaginable damage on the federal judiciary. With 85 appointments, including two to the Supreme Court, Trump has packed the courts with conservative ideologues hostile to civil rights. His 30 appointments to the all-important appellate courts broke records and represent more than half of President Obama’s appellate appointments in eight years.
But there are signs that the White House is on the verge of being too clever by half. It appears that it is trying to cut a deal with Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein that will leave the Ninth Circuit firmly in the grasp of anti-American jurists who are viscerally hostile to the US Constitution.
When the last Congress lapsed, there were 54 judicial nominees in the pipeline. Those nominations ceased to exist when the Congress ended. Last week, the administration submitted 51 of those names. The three missing are from the Ninth Circuit.
This week, President Donald Trump resubmitted 51 judicial nominations to the Senate. There are currently 57 pending judicial nominations, including 6 nominees the president submitted on January 16. https://t.co/Kfcfs0Fz4t
— Ballotpedia (@ballotpedia) January 27, 2019
The three missing names were Californians nominated to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals last year. Two other Ninth Circuit nominees, Eric Miller of Washington and Bridget Bade of Arizona, were renominated. But Daniel Collins, Kenneth Lee and Patrick Bumatay were withheld because we’re told the White House is negotiating with California Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.
Speculation is that the White House is trying to reach some kind of a “grand bargain” with those two harridans to get their support or something for future Trump nominees, particularly a replacement from Ruth Bader Ginsburg who hasn’t been seen in nearly two months.
It’s hard to believe someone could think this is plausible. Ms. Harris is running for President and will oppose any Trump nominee to the High Court. Ms. Feinstein was once more reasonable, but she and Ms. Harris were two of the worst mudslingers on the Judiciary Committee that smeared Brett Kavanaugh.
A concession to them now on nominees would rightly be seen as political weakness. It would concede influence that neither Senator has earned and set a precedent for other Democrats who would demand similar consideration. The result would be nominees who aren’t nearly as qualified, or as originalist in their thinking, as Mr. Trump’s nominees have been.
This is what weak people do. They negotiate with people who can’t give them anything (that would be Feinstein and Harris) to the disadvantage of their supporters. This is exactly how the Bush White House ended up operating…to the extent that it ever operated differently on judicial picks.
No matter what Trump does with the rest of judiciary, if he leaves the Ninth Circuit alone as a festering, effervescing puddle of neo-communism and political correctness, he will have abrogated his duty to the nation.
If @realDonaldTrump thinks Democrats will be kinder to a future Supreme Court nominee because he rolled over for Feinstein and Harris on the Ninth Circuit, he is listening to some extremely bad advice.
https://t.co/AJVW8VeUjL via @WSJOpinion
— Kimberley Strassel (@KimStrassel) January 30, 2019
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