The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has always been the most liberal appeals court in America, but that is all changing under President Trump.
He already has named 7 judges that have been confirmed with three more in the pipelines. His biggest legacy will be the remaking of the courts and denying the Democrats one of their most potent weapons, activist judges.
There are 29 seats in the 9th Circuit and ten of them will be Trumps and the breakdown will be about even with the other conservative judges already there.
Trump has done away with the tradition of giving the Senators from the state having input on the judges selected. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala harris insisted that he name an ultra-liberal judge, but Trump ignored them and picked a conservative.
Judge Stephen Reinhardt, once the liberal lion of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, had a stock response whenever he was asked why he wrote decisions that had little chance of surviving Supreme Court review.
“They can’t catch them all,” Reinhardt would quip.
It was the kind of display that inflamed conservative animosity for the 9th Circuit. Reinhardt’s oft-used crack was no mere jest. It reflected his belief in the judicial duty to unleash the full potential of the Constitution as a means for justice and social progress. His was an activism of Warren-court vintage that for decades made a home on the 9th Circuit.
Reinhardt was still in active judicial service when he died in March 2018, meaning it was for President Donald Trump to replace him. The death of an iconic progressive cause lawyer turned federal judge, and his succession by a young movement conservative, placed in sharp relief the Trump administration’s determined campaign to slowly transform the nation’s largest appeals court.
That story is not yet a triumphalist one. Though Trump has made more appointments to the 9th Circuit than any other federal appeals court, Democrat appointees still maintain a majority. What’s more, the judges he has appointed have only served for a brief time, making assessments premature. Still, the president has stacked his chief judicial adversary with a roster of increasingly conservative personnel, with additional confirmations expected before the end of 2019.