Trump is remaking the federal judiciary in his own image, and it’s very white, very Republican, and very male
By now, the Trump Administration is no stranger to lawsuits. As of late August, it had been sued more than 135 times—a number that has since risen. Many of those legal complaints have come from state attorneys general, the latest of whom seek to challenge Trump’s rollback of the Obama-era birth control coverage mandate.
As the administration continues to absorb legal blowback and fight cases in federal courts, Trump has quietly pushed ahead with his mission to remake the federal judiciary in his image: one that is very white, very Republican, and very male.
The president is “nominating white men to America’s federal courts at a rate not seen in nearly 30 years,” according to an analysis from The Associated Press.
And not only are the picks overwhelmingly white men, many of their views are antithetical to women’s reproductive rights.
Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing for Louisianan lawyer Kyle Duncan, Trump’s pick for a lifetime appointment to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Duncan’s nomination is backed by two anti-abortion organizations, Americans United for Life and the National Pro-Life Committee, as well as the Judicial Crisis Network, a conservative advocacy organization largely funded by the ultra-conservative Koch brothers. Though Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy hasn’t publicly shared which way he plans to vote on Duncan’s nomination, his spokeswoman told The Advocate that Kennedy is impressed with Duncan’s record on “pro-life and pro-religious liberty” issues.
When Trump took office, he wasted no time picking nominees for the more than 100 judicial vacancies that awaited him. His choices so far have been 92 percent white, and more than 78 percent male, as documented by the D.C.-based federal judiciary watchdog Alliance for Justice. (Under Obama, judicial nominees were 42 percent women.) Judicial appointments are always political, but Trump appears to be taking that partisan tone to new levels. One of his most recent nominees, 36-year-old political speechwriter and NRA-enthusiast Brett Talley, has never tried a case. Talley is the fourth Trump nominee to be deemed “not qualified” by the American Bar Association.
And on November 16, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa effectively blew past a tool historically used by senators to oppose nominees in their own states, making it even easier for Trump to continue filling empty judgeships to his liking.
It may be easy for the average American to overlook the significance of judiciary appointments. A poll from the American Bar Association, for example, shows that many voters are deeply uninformed when it comes to elected judges at the state level. But while the appointment of a federal judge in a state you don’t live in might seem irrelevant, stacking the judiciary with judges who are ideologically aligned with the president can have very real consequences. (After all, there’s a reason many senators worked so hard to block our previous president’s judicial nominations.) Further, federal judges often remain in their appointments for decades—meaning one president’s picks can shape the legal landscape for years to come. Trump knows and has acknowledged this.
With the birth control mandate case before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, it’s a good time to remember that the power of the federal judiciary has the ability to affect the lives of all Americans. In this particular case, women have a lot to lose.
More articles by Category: Health, Politics, Religion
More articles by Tag: Judiciary, Courts, Trump