The Least Appreciated Story in Washington
Author: Greg Valliere
November 7, 2019
WITH AMAZINGLY LITTLE FANFARE, the U.S. judiciary has been transformed, with over 150 new judges — mostly young and very conservative — winning lifetime seats from the Senate thus far in the Trump administration.
PASSING THE 150 MARK prompted a celebration at the White House yesterday, where the president praised Mitch McConnell, the architect of the judicial confirmation success. It was a victory lap, overlooking the GOP’s apparent loss in the Kentucky gubernatorial race, and McConnell’s recent harsh criticism of Trump’s abandonment of the Kurds.
McCONNELL’S LEGACY IS CLEAR: He bottled up Obama nominations (there were nearly 100 judicial vacancies when Trump took office), and subsequently McConnell has steamrolled through the Senate the confirmation of 44 appeals court judges, 112 district judges and two Supreme Court judges. The average age of these judges is less than 50.
CONGRESS HAS STALLED on a drug pricing bill, the Mexico-Canada trade deal, gun control and a budget for 2020, but the confirmations will continue; two more are likely this week, which will bring judicial confirmations to 72 in 2019, a record.
NO REPUBLICANS WILL PUBLICLY discuss the health of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 86, but it’s widely assumed on Capitol Hill that McConnell has a list of potential successors; he’s determined to confirm a replacement, if necessary, at any time in the next ten months. That could produce a 6-3 conservative majority on the high court.
BIG IMPLICATIONS: First, a clearly conservative judiciary has electrified Trump’s base, and it’s a major reason why Republicans are likely to support him overwhelmingly in the 2020 election. Second, a conservative judiciary will have an enormous impact on redistricting, reproductive rights, Electoral College reform, Obamacare, immigration, etc.
SOME YOUNG PEOPLE tell us they aren’t interested in voting; many complain that voting doesn’t make a difference. Our immediate response is that it most definitely makes a difference. Republicans like McConnell get it — and the judiciary has been transformed for decades to come.
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