While President Donald Trump’s many controversies keep headlines and Americans focused on everything from the ongoing Russia probe to tweets criticizing his numerous detractors, Republicans in the Senate are busy pushing through Trump’s judicial nominees at a record clip.
As it now stands, one in seven of the nation’s 167 appeals courts judges has been nominated by President Trump.
With another judge confirmed Tuesday by the Senate, President Trump and Senate Republicans are leaving an ever-expanding imprint on the judiciary, nudging powerful appeals courts rightward through a determined effort to nominate and confirm a steady procession of young conservative jurists.
The narrow, 52-to-46 appeals court confirmation on Tuesday of Britt C. Grant, 40, a Georgia Supreme Court justice who was once a clerk for Judge Kavanaugh, was Mr. Trump’s 24th circuit court appointment — more than any other president had secured at this point in his presidency since the creation of the regional circuit court system in 1891, according to an analysis of judicial records by The New York Times. The Senate did not confirm President Barack Obama’s 24th nominee to the regional circuit courts until the fourth year of his presidency.
Republican leadership has made clear that judicial confirmations have been one of its top priorities:
“I think it’s the longest-term sort of impact we can have on the future of the country,” Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said in an interview.
And the fact that Trump enjoys such a large number of spots to fill is largely due to Republicans’ successful blocking of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees during the final two years of his second term.
Senate Democrats have had little recourse but to vent their frustrations, the Times notes.
“Humming in the background of the Senate’s more newsworthy business, the Republican majority has confirmed a conveyor belt of nakedly partisan ideological judges to the bench,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said recently on the Senate floor.
Mr. McConnell takes that kind of Democratic criticism as a compliment.
“I appreciate their attention to it,” he said wryly. “They’ve noticed it’s my top priority.”
McConnell’s arrogance aside, Republicans could see an end to their streamlining of judicial confirmations should they lose control of the Senate after midterm elections.
In the meantime, Republicans are allowing Trump to help reshape the courts for years to come.
The judges will be leaving their mark on the court system long after Mr. Trump has left the White House. The average age of Mr. Trump’s first-year circuit court nominees was 49, according to the Congressional Research Service, younger than the first-year nominees of Presidents Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The vast majority of the Trump nominees were white, and most were male.