Good News: Democrats Are Very Upset Trump Is Reshaping The Courts

The #NeverTrumpers on the right seem to focus on Trump’s personality, rather than the great Conservative things he’s doing, like this

What Happened When Trump Reshaped a Powerful Court

With the help of Senate Republicans, Donald Trump spent the first three years of his presidency remaking the federal judiciary in his own image. The president has appointed 133 district court judges, 50 appeals court judges, and two Supreme Court justices—meaning about one-fifth of the nation’s federal trial judges, and one-fourth of its federal appellate judges, are Trump appointees. These jurists are leading a conservative revolution that will upend decades of precedent and enshrine reactionary policies into the law. The transformation has only just begun. But for a glimpse of where the judiciary is heading if Trump wins a second term, Americans can look to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A traditionally conservative bench, the court has been newly reshaped by Trump—and quickly got to work translating right-wing priorities into legal doctrine that will govern generations.

The 5th Circuit’s descent into lawlessness did not happen by accident. Senate Republicans would not let President Barack Obama fill several seats on the court, allowing Trump to reshape it after taking office. He appointed five of the court’s seventeen active judges, who immediately allied with the court’s existing far-right bloc, which includes extremists like Judges Jerry Smith and Edith Jones (appointed by Ronald Reagan) and Jennifer Walker Elrod (appointed by George W. Bush). There are now 11 GOP nominees on the court and just five Democratic nominees. (There’s also one vacancy, because some Republican senators deem Trump’s choice for the seat insufficiently militant.) (snip)

Like all federal appeals courts, the 5th Circuit first hears cases as a three-judge panel whose members are randomly selected; a majority of the court can then choose to rehear the case “en banc,” with every active judge sitting. Today, extremists are more likely to constitute a majority on three-judge panels, and they have an insurmountable majority when the court sits en banc.

In 2019, the conservative majority went on a rampage. In December, the court ruled that Obamacare’s individual mandate had become unconstitutional in an overtly partisan decision, and suggested that the rest of the law may have to fall, as well. Another appalling December ruling provides a good example of the 5th Circuit’s cruelty. The court granted immunity from civil suit to prison guards who locked an inmate in two filthy cells for six days. These cells, including the floor and the faucet, were covered in “massive amounts” of feces. The inmate, who was completely naked, was forced to sleep in feces and could not eat or drink because excrement contaminated everything. He sued the guards, who laughed and taunted him as he suffered, for subjecting him to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

The writer, Mark Joseph Stern, attempts to paint almost every decision of the court as The Worst Ever, spinning them all, because, really, who has the time to delve deep into each ruling to discover the truth? Like that the 5th Circuit was simply upholding lower court rulings, because the plaintiff did not prove his case.

Trump’s judicial nominees are not selected because they are unbiased or nonpartisan or fair-minded. They are chosen largely because of their loyalty to the Federalist Society, a network of conservative attorneys led by Leonard Leo, who advises Trump on judges. Leo has spent decades—and millions in dark money—grooming and vetting lawyers who impose their hard-right views from the bench. He views moderate judges like Haynes as mistakes. The influx of Trump judges, who had to pass an ideological purity test to win Leo’s approval, will not drift to the left.

Is that like the Illuminati?

The 5th Circuit today is a sneak peek of what more courts will look like once they have been fully captured by judges both Trump-appointed and Trump-aligned. The president has already flipped the 2nd, 3rd, and 11th Circuits, creating a majority of Republican appointees. As the president solidifies his grasp on these courts, we can expect them to issue more extreme decisions that drag the law to the right. Although the Supreme Court is fiercely conservative, the chief justice has stopped it short of going full partisan in occasional high-profile cases. If Trump gets one more Supreme Court appointment, however, SCOTUS may join the 5th Circuit in abandoning any pretense of impartiality and simply embracing the Republican Party platform.

Trump, along with McConnell, is remaking the courts, moving them out of the hands of liberals and into the hands of Conservatives who will apply the Constitution to decisions, who will stop the Leftist nonsense. #NeverTrump needs to get over themselves and get with the program.

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