President Trump held a White House briefing this week on the status of his judicial appointments since taking office. In addition to the press and interested third parties, attendees included Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and various current and past members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, including: Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO).
The president spoke from prepared remarks but went off script several times to speak directly to some in attendance who had played roles in confirming over 150 of his judicial nominees. The president termed these confirmations a “profoundly historic milestone and a truly momentous achievement.”
The president gave specifics, including:
- 158 judicial nominees have been confirmed to the federal bench since January 2017.
- This includes two Supreme Court justices, 44 Circuit Court judges, and 112 District Court judges.
- More circuit judges have been appointed at this point in Trump’s presidency than any president in recent history.
- Approximately 1 out of every 4 active judges on United States Courts of Appeals has been appointed by President Trump
The president also spoke of the constitutional role of judges and the dangers of appointing judges who legislate from the bench.
“The great English jurist, William Blackstone, warned that if the judicial power were ‘joined with the legislative, then life, liberty and property…would be in the hands of arbitrary judges whose decisions would be then regulated only by their opinion, and not by any fundamental principles of law,’” the president said.
Judicial vacancies continue to open as federal judges resign, retire or die. Even with 158 judicial slots filled by this president since Inauguration Day, currently 142 positions need to be filled. There are approximately 900 federal judges (excluding specialty courts), and nominating and confirming constitutionalists in record numbers—despite unprecedented obstruction tactics by Democrats—will ultimately impact the federal judiciary for the better.
The Framers’ vision for the judiciary was that it would be “the least dangerous” of the three branches of government, because, according to Alexander Hamilton in Federalist #78, “it may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment.”
We can only realize that vision if the men and women appointed to lifetime tenure on the federal bench are committed constitutionalists who interpret the Constitution and laws according to their text and original meaning. That was the president’s campaign promise in 2016. Given the results since then, there is little dispute among conservatives that he has kept that promise.
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