While the stolen seat on the Supreme Court got the most press coverage, Republicans stole over 120 seats on Federal Courts since 2015. Now Trump is set to nominate 10 people chosen by the Federalist Society to start filling those seats.
Refusing to confirm nominees simply because a Democratic President nominated them, Republicans now expect Democrats to just go along with nominations selected by the Federalist Society and formally nominated by a man who has been under investigation throughout his presidency.
Among the people Trump reportedly plans to nominate are two state Supreme Court Judges, Justice Joan Larsen of Michigan and Justice David Stras of Minnesota to the 6th and 8th circuits.
SCOTUS Blog describes Larsen as a judge with “solid conservative bona fides and mixes roots in the heartland. She worked at the Bush Administration’s OLC at the time others in that office wrote memos justifying torture by way of water boarding and sleep deprivation. Her record as a judge is thin, making it difficult, if not impossible to make a responsible assessment of her judicial philosophy.
Stras has served on Minnesota’s Supreme Court since 2010. He taught at University of Minnesota Law school between 2004 and 2010. And like Larsen, he was on Trump’s short-list for the Supreme Court nomination won by Neil Gorsuch.
His other appellate nominees include Kevin Newsom for the 11th Circuit, John Bush for the 6th Circuit and law professor, Amy Coney for the 7th Circuit.
Kevin Newsom is another Federalist Society pick, who clerked for Supreme Court Justice David Souter and served as solicitor general of Alabama.
Bush is president of the Louisville Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society. He was one of Ronald Reagan’s lawyers during Iran-Contra. He has no experience as a judge.
Amy Coney Barrett is another Federalist Society pick, (surprise!) She teaches at Notre Dame Law School. She clerked for Judge Laurence Silberman of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals 1997-1998 and for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia 1998-1999. Coney-Barrett also has some scholarly work, which combined with her clerkship with Scalia suggests she is a constitutional originalist, which means she will interpret civil rights narrowly unless they apply to the rich and/or corporations.
Even though Trump’s nominees have the academic qualifications. and some of them have some experience as judges; as we saw with Gorsuch, the resume doesn’t reveal judicial philosophies or testify to the quality of a nominee’s rulings when applicable.
There is no way to assess whether they are conservative judges or conservative judicial activists, other than by the fact that they were chosen by the Federalist Society. That probably explains why candidates with thin or non-existent judicial records appeal to Trump. Even he has figured out you can’t question something that doesn’t exist.
Regardless of their qualifications, Trump’s judicial nominees are tainted not only by the Republican obstructionism that occurred since 2015 but also because they selected by an interest group and nominated by a man who has an unprecedented disrespect for judges and the law, including the United States Constitution.