Trump's Judicial Legacy
August 2, 20197:03 AM ET
President Trump has now appointed nearly one in four of all federal circuit court judges, cementing an important part of his legacy. The picks are far less diverse than his predecessor's.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
The president of the United States may be a master of distraction, with one dramatic story unfolding after another, but when it comes to judges, his administration has been very disciplined. In a little over two years in office, the Trump administration has appointed almost 1 out of every 4 federal appeals court judges in the United States. Earlier this week, the president called it his legacy. NPR's Carrie Johnson reports on how the White House is starting to reshape the bench.
CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Federal judges serve for life, so President Trump's achievements on judicial nominations could represent his most enduring contribution.
BRIAN FALLON: The sheer number of people that Trump is installing at a very young age ensures that the legacy of Trumpism is going to be with us for the next three to four decades.
JOHNSON: Brian Fallon is executive director at Demand Justice. It's a left-leaning group designed to fight Trump's judge nominations and to rally Democrats. So far, the White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are dominating in that arena. Trump has installed nearly 25% of all federal appeals court judges and about 15% of all district court judges.
KRISTINE LUCIUS: What stands out to me is that President Trump is deliberately nominating the least diverse class of judicial nominees that we have seen in modern history.
JOHNSON: Kristine Lucius of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights says there's something unusual about them.
LUCIUS: It is stunning to me that 2 1/2 years in he has not nominated a single African American or a single Latinx to the appellate courts.
JOHNSON: In all, around 70% of Trump's judge appointees are white men. Dozens of those nominees have refused to answer whether they support the Supreme Court holding in Brown v. Board of Education. That 1954 opinion said racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional. Conservative legal analyst Ed Whalen says there are good reasons why some judge candidates balk at those questions.
ED WHALEN: Well, I think there's a game being played here, and the critics are part of that game. It's quite clear that what Democratic senators' aims do with that questioning is say, well, if you're going to answer questions about Brown, why won't you answer questions about Roe?
JOHNSON: Whalen is talking about Roe v. Wade, the decision that legalized abortion. Abortion rights groups worry that ruling is now under attack from a new generation of judges with ties to the conservative Federalist Society.
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