It has been reported that president-elect Trump will be able to appoint over 100 vacancies in the federal and district courts, meaning he will be able to reshape the court system in the Republican favor.
In Obama’s eight years, he had about half of that number with 54 openings to fill.
“Obama White House officials blame Senate Republicans for what they characterize as an unprecedented level of obstruction in blocking the Democratic president’s court picks,” writes The Washington Post. “The result is a multitude of openings throughout the federal circuit and district courts that will allow the new Republican president to quickly make a wide array of lifetime appointments.”
This does mean that it is likely that the new court officials will be more supportive of conservative agenda. Trump has said he will select individuals who share the ideals of the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia.
Conservatives are optimistic about the future of the U.S. courts.
“I’m optimistic he’ll come at this right out of the gate,” said Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Conservative group Judicial Crisis Network. “Every president can expect to make a huge impact. [Trump] is unique in having campaigned really hard on this issue — the significance of the courts, and of the Supreme Court in particular.”
25 of Obama’s court nominees were pending, but now the openings will be determined by president-elect Trump.
“The replacement of our beloved Justice Scalia will be a person of similar views, principles and judicial philosophies,” said Trump at the Republican National Convention. “Very important. This will be one of the most important issues decided by this election.”
However, Trump will be under a tremendous amount of pressure to fil these spots quickly. There are several areas around the country with long lists of cases waiting to be settled due to long-vacant seats.
“There are 38 so-called judicial emergencies, according to the nonpartisan Judicial Conference, including in Texas, where seven seats have sat empty for more than one year. The Obama administration and the state’s two conservative Republican senators could not come to an agreement on nominees for the many openings,” writes The Washington Post.
Democrats have been quick to blame Republicans for “obstructing” the election of qualified judges.
“Despite the fact that there are dozens of qualified, consensus nominees pending on the Senate floor right now, we will finish this Congress having confirmed just 22 judicial nominees in two years. That is the lowest number since Harry Truman was president,” said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.)
But, judicial vacancy data is all relative.
“The White House has very little to complain about because no matter how they spin it, the fact is that President Obama had more judicial nominees confirmed than President Bush,” said Beth Levin, spokeswoman for Senator Chuck Grassley.
The Senate has confirmed 329 of Obama’s nominees, which is more than Bush’s 326.
Nonetheless, Trump’s presidency means change.
“Russell Wheeler, an expert on judicial nominations at the Brookings Institution, said Trump has a great opportunity to change the partisan split in the federal courts. He predicted that by mid-2020, Republican appointees would hold about half of the 673 district judgeships, as opposed to the current 34 percent. And among the 179 circuit court judgeships, Democratic appointees now hold a slim majority, 51 percent, but that could fall to about 43 percent,” writes The Washington Post.
But, Wheeler did say that the 28 Democratic senators will be giving the Trump administration some major opposition about his nominations.