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Trump’s judicial confirmations aren’t changing the balance of the courts as much as he hoped — here’s why

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President Donald Trump is not very productive on policy, but one note of solace for conservatives  and horror for liberals  is that he has been very good at getting judicial nominees through the Senate.

With the help of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who left numerous seats vacant under President Barack Obama and blocked qualified nominees in the hope of getting a Republican president to fill them instead, Trump has put two judges on the Supreme Court  one of whom weathered accusations of sexual assault  and flooded the appellate and district courts with new judges.

But even Trump’s judicial confirmations haven’t produced the dramatic conservative shift in the courts that Republicans had hoped. As the Huffington Post notes, one of the reasons is that most of the vacancies Trump is filling were already held by Republican-appointed judges anyway:

Russell Wheeler, a visiting fellow in the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program, crunched the numbers on this in December and found that 19 of Trump’s 29 circuit judges were replacing judges selected by other Republican presidents. HuffPost updated his numbers: 24 of the 36 circuit judges Trump has confirmed so far have replaced Republican picks.
What about the circuit court vacancies that Trump could still fill in his first term? Wheeler found in December that nine of 16 current and announced future vacancies were filled by Republican-chosen judges. HuffPost updated his numbers: Five of 10 current and future vacancies were or are still filled by Republican-chosen judges.

The lower court judges Trump are appointing will be the final deciders in the majority of federal cases, as the Supreme Court only takes 100 to 150 appeals from the roughly 7,000 annual cases before the 13 circuit courts. These new judges are overwhelmingly young, anti-choice, anti-voting-rights conservative activists, often alumni of the hard-right Federalist Society  and many of them are flamboyant characters. John Bush, whom Trump seated on the Sixth Circuit, compared abortion to slavery. James Ho, on the Fifth Circuit, has suggested the wealthy should have the right to bribe regulators and accused judges who don’t agree with his hardline anti-abortion position of hating Christians. Don Willett, also on the Fifth Circuit, wants to bring back the Lochner doctrine, an extreme-right early 20th century judicial philosophy that holds that “contract rights” nullify virtually all laws regulating labor and businesses. Some of Trump’s judicial picks are so extreme and unqualified that even Senate Republicans rejected them, like Brett Talley, who defended the Ku Klux Klan in college writings.

While Trump’s ideological impact of the courts has advanced slowly so far, his efforts have definitely been noticed  this month, the Third Circuit officially flipped to having a Republican majority. And while no other Democratic-majority appeals courts have enough vacancies for Trump to flip them yet, that could change if he wins a second term, and some of the older Democratic judges could retire or assume senior status. Then, of course, there’s the matter of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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If the 2016 elections were a pivotal moment for the federal courts, the 2020 elections could be infinitely more so.

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Trump flips out over ‘RIGGED’ hearings as Democrats grill Hope Hicks

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President Donald Trump ranted on Twitter while his former communications director testified before the House Judiciary Committee.

Hope Hicks complied with a congressional subpoena and testified behind closed doors to the Democrat-led panel, and the president raged online as word leaked out that a White House lawyer was objecting to many of the questions about her government service.

"The Dems are very unhappy with the Mueller Report, so after almost 3 years, they want a Redo, or Do Over. This is extreme Presidential Harassment," Trump tweeted. "They gave Crooked Hillary’s people complete Immunity, yet now they bring back Hope Hicks."

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Soledad O’Brien shames the press for calling Trump’s lies about Central Park 5 a ‘controversial stance’

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Former CNN host Soledad O'Brien has once again called out media outlets for whitewashing President Donald Trump's blatant lies.

This time, O'Brien took issue with a USA Today headline that mischaracterized Trump's lies about five black men who were falsely accused of raping a woman in New York's Central Park in the 1980s, only to have their convictions vacated in 2002 after DNA evidence exonerated them and another man confessed that he was the man who committed the brutal Central Park rape more than a decade earlier.

Instead of calling out Trump for lying about the case, the paper simply called Trump's continued assertions of their guilt a "controversial stance."

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‘Ridiculous!’ House Dems slam Hope Hicks and her White House lawyer for refusing to answer questions

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Democratic lawmakers are already calling Hope Hicks' congressional testimony "ridiculous."

The former White House communications director complied with a subpoena Wednesday morning to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, but refused to answer any questions about her time serving under President Donald Trump.

A White House lawyer who accompanied Hicks, who left the government in early 2018, repeatedly objected to questions from congressional investigators.

“It’s pretty ridiculous,” says Rep. @KarenBassTweets, saying the White House lawyer inside the Hope Hicks interview is objecting to lots of questions.

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