The Senate Just Wrapped Up A Judicial Confirmation Blitz

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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The Senate confirmed four of President Donald Trump’s nominees to federal appeals courts this week, concluding one of the most aggressive confirmation gauntlets of recent years.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell staged the confirmation blitz at the urging of conservative groups, including the Heritage Foundation and the Judicial Crisis Network, who feared an increasingly dysfunctional Congress could squander the opportunity to load the federal bench with young, conservative jurists.

The nominees include Michigan Supreme Court Justice Joan Larsen, confirmed to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Colorado Supreme Court Justice Allison Eid, confirmed to the 10th Circuit, Notre Dame Law School Professor Amy Coney Barrett to the 7th Circuit, and University of Pennsylvania Law School Professor Stephanos Bibas to the 3rd Circuit.

In a pair of tweets Wednesday, President Trump lavished praise on McConnell, and promised that his effort to realign the courts would continue unabated.

Nine of the nation’s 13 federal appeals courts had a majority of Democratic appointees when Trump assumed the presidency. Though no Trump nominee has yet tipped the partisan balance of a given court, he has made appointments to benches dominated by Democratic appointees, including the 3rd and 11th Circuits, setting off the lengthy process of ideological and interpretative realignment. He has also named two nominees to the 9th Circuit, often viewed by conservatives as a bastion of liberal jurisprudence.

All told, eight of Trump’s appeals court nominees have been confirmed as of this writing, a record pace as compared to his recent predecessors. Just three of former President Barack Obama’s appeals court nominees were confirmed during his first year in office. Former President George W. Bush had six circuit court confirmations during his first year, while former President Bill Clinton, like Obama, had three.

There are currently 147 vacancies in the federal courts, according to the Judicial Conference of the United States.

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