Harry Reid paved the way for Trump and McConnell’s success in reshaping the judiciary

The decade is almost over, and progressives will have more crushing defeats to stomach in the years to come than President Donald Trump’s likely acquittal of impeachment charges.

Trump’s rapid-fire appointment of conservative judges has assured his legacy for generations — and Democrats only have themselves to blame, the Washington Examiner wrote in an editorial. The Democrats are reaping the whirlwind of former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) play to stack the courts by invoking the so-called “nuclear option,” the paper writes.

“McConnell is not the Senate majority leader Trump should be thanking. That honor goes to McConnell’s predecessor, former Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada.”

Editorial: thank Dems for Trump judges

With current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) help, Trump has quietly refashioned the federal judiciary — much to the chagrin of progressives, who fear the long-term consequences for the right to an abortion and other liberal pieties.

Leftist ire has typically focused on McConnell, whose coordination with Trump and no-holds-barred approach have made him a favorite person to hate among Democrats.

But to really understand what’s going on, you need to go back to 2013, when a hubristic Harry Reid lowered the number of “yeas” needed to confirm a judge from 60 to a mere majority of 51. Democrats lost the Senate the next year, and McConnell swiftly moved to obstruct their picks, limiting the judicial impact of President Barack Obama’s remaining years in the Oval Office.

Trump has taken advantage of a wave of retirements and vacancies that opened in Obama’s second term, and with 53 seats in the Senate, Republicans have had enough votes to approve judges even with party-line opposition from Democrats. Trump and McConnell have managed to appoint appeals court judges at “about twice the rate of his three predecessors,” Presidents Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.

Trump has now appointed 50 appeals court judges in less than a single term, nearly as many as Obama did throughout his whole eight years, and he has tilted the Supreme Court to the right by confirming two conservative justices in just one term. Clinton, Bush, and Obama each appointed just two in their entire presidencies.

Trump re-making the judiciary

Evidently, Democrats never bet on losing power, but they are fighting back with immense, concerted hostility to Trump’s judicial picks. Reid’s rule change cast a heavy shadow during Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation battle, in which Kavanaugh squeaked through with 50 Republicans voting yes and all Democrats except Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) voting no.

Many Democrats saw Kavanaugh’s confirmation as salt in the wound after McConnell prevented Obama from filling the vacancy left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia with his nominee, Merrick Garland, which eventually went to Justice Neil Gorsuch. But Reid’s procedural overhaul certainly helped set up Trump and McConnell to make the most of both Garland’s “seat” (never mind that it was never his) and the opening left by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

The war over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination set the standard for modern judicial warfare, but as the Examiner notes, the left has routinely sought to block dozens of Trump’s picks. For many Senate Democrats, rising to the federal judiciary now comes with a list of progressive dogmas that make membership in benign fraternal groups a borderline crime.

That Trump has been able to reshape the judiciary amid lock-step opposition from Democrats, though, is a testament to Reid’s error. It’s also a sobering lesson: those who govern as if their party will have power forever may soon rue their mistake.

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