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Trump reshapes federal judiciary

Donald Trump

Donald Trump is remaking the federal judiciary through conservative appellate court appointments.

President Donald Trump is making good on at least one campaign promise. He is shifting the federal judiciary sharply to the right.

The New York Times reports that, in addition to his high-profile appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Trump is stacking appellate courts with conservatives as part of a strategy at work since the beginning of his presidency.

The Times reports that Donald F. McGahn, who will soon take office as White House Counsel, met with a group of lawyers last year and filled a whiteboard with the names of young, conservative judges. Since then, Trump has been moving to appoint those judges to appellate court vacancies.

Here’s the Times:

Mr. McGahn, instructed by Mr. Trump to maximize the opportunity to reshape the judiciary, mapped out potential nominees and a strategy, according to two people familiar with the effort: Start by filling vacancies on appeals courts with multiple openings and where Democratic senators up for re-election next year in states won by Mr. Trump — like Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania — could be pressured not to block his nominees. And to speed them through confirmation, avoid clogging the Senate with too many nominees for the district courts, where legal philosophy is less crucial.

Nearly a year later, that plan is coming to fruition. Mr. Trump has already appointed eight appellate judges, the most this early in a presidency since Richard M. Nixon, and on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to send a ninth appellate nominee — Mr. Trump’s deputy White House counsel, Gregory Katsas — to the floor.

Republicans are systematically filling appellate seats they held open during President Barack Obama’s final two years in office with a particularly conservative group of judges with life tenure. Democrats — who in late 2013 abolished the ability of 41 lawmakers to block such nominees with a filibuster, then quickly lost control of the Senate — have scant power to stop them.

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