“With 24 confirmations and 13 vacancies to fill, Trump and the Republicans have the power to install more than 20 percent of the judges on the nation’s second-highest courts.”

With little fanfare, Trump and McConnell reshape the nation’s circuit courts
By Sean Sullivan and Mike DeBonis
The Washington Post
August 14, 2018

As the Senate moves toward confirming Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are leading a lower-key yet deeply consequential charge to remake the entire federal judiciary.

The Senate will return Wednesday from an abbreviated summer recess to confirm two more federal appeals court judges by the end of the week. That would come on top of a record-breaking string of confirmations: The Senate already has installed 24 appellate judges since Trump was sworn in, the highest number for a president’s first two years in office.

While much of the focus has been on Kavanaugh and Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, the Senate’s rapid approval of appellate judges is likely to have its own broad impact on the nation, as the 13 circuit courts will shape decisions on immigration, voting rights, abortion and the environment for generations.

There are 179 authorized judgeships for the U.S. Court of Appeals. With 24 confirmations and 13 vacancies to fill, Trump and the Republicans have the power to install more than 20 percent of the judges on the nation’s second-highest courts.

“One of the most significant accomplishments in President Donald Trump’s first year will serve Americans for decades to come, yet it has received very little fanfare,” wrote McConnell with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) in a January National Review op-ed.

On Wednesday, the Senate plans to advance the nominations of A. Marvin Quattlebaum Jr. and Julius Ness Richardson, both for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. Both Quattlebaum and Richardson have bipartisan support, winning the votes of some Democrats when they were considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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