Trump to unveil list of conservative judges to fill lower federal courts

Cheryl Sanders
May 11, 2017

Shortly after 7:30 p.m. Monday, the White House formally announced Trump's nomination of five judges to federal appellate courts and another five judges to lower federal courts. He even released a list of potential candidates for the Supreme Court, which Malcolm and the Heritage Foundation had a hand in crafting. Senators love the privilege because it encourages the White House to involve them in the nominee selection process.

Along with judicial vacancies, Trump has yet to fill hundreds of political appointee positions across the federal government. He has been nominated to the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Among the group's conservative legal credentials, Justice Larsen also clerked for Justice Scalia, and Justice Stras clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Per the Times' report, Trump will nominate Stras to the United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit in St. Louis, Missouri. Retired Justice Alan Page, a former Minnesota Viking who was the state's first black Supreme Court justice, said Stras is not an ideologue and they often ended up on the same side despite their different backgrounds and experiences. In 2015, Justice Kennedy wrote what the New York Times called a "critical" 5-4 decision joined by the Court's moderates that upheld the principle that the federal Fair Housing Act prohibits practices with a discriminatory effect and thus continued to combat harm to "minorities and other vulnerable groups the law was written to protect". Thapar is now a federal district judge (the trial court in the federal system) in Kentucky.

-Dabney Friedrich, a former member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, nominated to the federal court in Washington, D.C.

"Starting with a Supreme Court vacancy, which has now been filed, President Trump certainly has a very good opportunity early on to have an impact on the federal bench", Malcolm said.

"The nominees have stellar qualifications and a record of courageous commitment to the rule of law that will make them excellent additions to the federal bench", Severino said. Among other things, Schiff successfully argued Sackett v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before the U.S. Supreme Court. He was among 10 nominees for federal judgeships announced Monday.

As it stands right now the Republican party controls the House of Representatives and the Senate, so they've got the legislative branch. Minnesota Supreme Court nominees do not have to be confirmed by the Legislature but do have to stand for election. Two of the district court nominees are individuals who former President Barack Obama originally selected. There's an unusually large number of vacancies in the federal courts. Trump acknowledged that strategy at last month's swearing-in ceremony for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. By already naming nominees for one quarter of the 24 appeals court openings, Trump is off to a great start.

"With this first slate of lower court nominees, it seems that the President is intent on continuing to outsource the judicial selection process to hard right, special interest groups rather than consulting with Senators on a bipartisan basis", Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of NY said in a statement. Nye had been nominated by President Obama but didn't receive a vote in the full Senate. The Senate hasn't confirmed a circuit court judge since January 2016, enabling Trump to inherit 19 circuit court vacancies when he took office.

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