President Joe Biden is set to make two appointments to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which will mark his first opportunity to do so since taking office, the Associated Press reported on Saturday.
Many on the left are eager to see Biden begin making changes to the judiciary, and they include former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI).
“It’s an exceptional situation where you have a president and the people around him, people who really see this as a high priority,” the Associated Press quoted Feingold as saying.
“I think President Biden knows that a part of his legacy will be undoing the damage done by Trump to the extent possible,” he added.
Trump’s legacy on the courts remains strong
However, while Biden might make some headway in having an impact on the federal courts, his predecessor’s legacy will be felt for some time.
In 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump made the issue of judicial appointments an important feature of his presidential campaign. After assuming the presidency, Trump went on to make a substantial number of additions to the federal bench.
As Pew Research writer John Gramlich explained in January, “Donald Trump leaves the White House having appointed more than 200 judges to the federal bench, including nearly as many powerful federal appeals court judges in four years as Barack Obama appointed in eight.”
“Trump appointed 54 federal appellate judges in four years, one short of the 55 Obama appointed in twice as much time,” Gramlich added.
What’s more, Gramlich noted that Obama’s three U.S. Supreme Court appointments were made to fill openings left by liberal justices, thus having little impact on the high court’s overall ideological balance.
Court-packing still a possibility
Although Biden will likely have fewer opportunities to appoint Supreme Court justices than Trump did upon taking office, some Democrats are hoping to change that via legislation.
According to the Associated Press, there is a push by some in the Democratic party to increase the number of judges who sit on the Supreme Court bench — a move that would increase the number of appointments that Biden could ultimately make.
Packing the high court will undoubtedly draw sharp opposition from Republicans, with the Heritage Foundation’s John Malcolm recently quoted as saying that conservatives are “not OK with that.”