News, Trump Administration

Report: Trump filling up federal judiciary with clones of Mike Pence

President Donald Trump’s confirmed lifetime federal judges are overwhelmingly white men with records of opposing abortion, LGBTQ rights and voting rights, according to a new report.

Jennifer Bendery with the Huffington Post wrote this week about how Trump is making the courts less diverse.

A whopping 90 percent of the Trump picks confirmed for appeals courts in his first two years in office were white, according to a Congressional Research Service analysis. Ten percent were Asian American. He didn’t confirm any African American or Hispanic circuit judges.

In that same period, 92 percent of his confirmed district court judges were white. Four percent were Asian American, 2 percent were African American and 2 percent were Hispanic.

As for the gender breakdown, 80 percent of Trump’s confirmed appeals court judges and 74 percent of those approved for the district courts were male.

For some context, 65 percent of President Barack Obama’s confirmed appeals court judges were white, as were 63 percent of those he placed on district courts. In terms of gender, 56 percent of Obama’s confirmed appeals court judges and 59 percent of his confirmed district court judges were male, per the CRS analysis.

Less diversity, Bendery wrote, means fewer of the people making decisions on the nation’s most powerful courts reflect the demographics of the populations they serve, which limits perspectives on critical issues like abortion rights, criminal justice and employment discrimination.

An example of this can be seen in North Carolina, where Trump has nominated Thomas Farr multiple times to the U.S. District Court bench in the Eastern District of North Carolina. Farr is a white man with strong ties to white supremacy and voter suppression, and the Eastern District of North Carolina houses almost half of the state’s Black population.

Obama had nominated both Jennifer May-Parker, the Chief of the Appellate Division at the United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of North Carolina, and Patricia Timmons-Goodson, a former state Supreme Court justice and vice chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, but they were blocked by the GOP-led Senate at the time. If either had gotten the judgeship, they would have been the first federal judges of color in North Carolina history for years.

Farr has not been confirmed to the seat, which is the longest running vacancy in the nation at over 13 years.

Trump didn’t nominate any African American women to be appeals or district judges during his first two years — though last month he nominated two, according to the Huffington Post piece. He hasn’t nominated any Native American judges. And he’s nominated two LGBTQ people for federal court seats, but neither have been confirmed.

More than 80 percent of Trump’s judges are also members of the Federalist Society — including U.S. Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — a powerful Washington-based organization of conservative lawyers that has been feeding the White House the names of young, anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ, anti-voting rights attorneys to confirm to judgeships.

The White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have been laser-focused on filling appeals court vacancies because these courts often have the last word in federal cases. The Supreme Court only hears about 100 to 150 cases every year, compared to the more than 50,000 cases heard by appeals courts.

To date, Trump has won confirmation of 37 appeals court judges and 58 district court judges. At the appeals court level, that’s more than any president has confirmed in his first two years and means that one in five judges on the nation’s appeals courts was nominated by Trump.

McConnell is now turning his attention to the 125 vacancies on district courts. Republicans blew up the Senate rules last month to make it a lot easier to confirm district court judges, so it’s possible they’ll fill all of those vacancies by the end of Trump’s first term.

Read the full story here.

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