President Donald Trump has successfully reshaped one of the most liberal judicial circuits in the country.
The 9th Circuit has nearly flipped to conservative control thanks to a blitzkrieg of judicial appointments by the Trump administration, sending a “shock wave” through the reliably liberal circuit, the Los Angeles Times reported. The paper spoke with judges from the circuit, some of whom criticized the new appointees.
“Trump has effectively flipped the circuit,” said 9th Circuit judge Milan Smith, Jr.
Trump flips liberal 9th circuit
Trump has appointed 51 judges to the appellate courts, just one part of the furious push to transform the federal judiciary that has been received with enthusiastic praise by supporters — and alarm from detractors. The president has now appointed 10 judges — nearly a third — to the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit in just three years.
That represents more than than the seven judges Obama placed on the court, which is home to the largest appeals court in the nation, during his eight years in office. The court now has a conservative tilt for the first time in two decades — a major boon for Trump, who has faced significant resistance in the circuit.
The 9th Circuit previously earned the ire of Trump for striking down his travel ban and numerous immigration policies. Trump’s takeover of the circuit showed dividends Monday when the appeals court voted to uphold the Trump administration’s Title X “gag rule,” which blocks Planned Parenthood from receiving certain federal funds if they refer women for abortions.
Such rulings have alarmed the president’s critics, who are concerned that president Trump’s transformation of the judiciary will roll back “progress” made — often through courts, with little resistance — by liberals over the years. While the circuit still has 16 liberal judges and 13 conservatives, there is a dawning sense that the 9th Circuit is fated to fall like a domino.
“You will see a sea change in the 9th Circuit on day-to-day decisions,” Smith said.
Liberal judges uncomfortable
Enemies of Trump’s agenda have often sought to portray his judicial picks as ideological and inexperienced –and in private comments, some judges on the 9th Circuit echoed those complaints to the Los Angeles Times. Some said that the new judges were irascible and untested, with one describing the changes brought by Trump as a “shockwave.”
The 9th Circuit’s mostly liberal judges are apparently still getting used to their new colleagues. Judge Ryan D. Nelson was also criticized for rocking the boat, by suggesting that a San Francisco district judge be recalled from a case after he issued an injunction to protect immigrants from losing Temporary Protected Status. Another judge, Daniel Collins, was described as “combative.”
“Collins has definitely bulldozed his way around here already in a short time,” one judge from the 9th Circuit said. “Either he doesn’t care or doesn’t realize that he has offended half the court already.”
The Trump administration has already flipped the 2nd, 3rd, and 11th circuits. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said that confirming judges is his top priority, and he has made no secret of his ambition to leave no seats open in case Trump loses his bid for re-election.