- The Republican victory in the Senate during Tuesday’s midterm elections means Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can keep doing what he does best: confirming judges.
- The lifetime appointments will shape the course of US policy for years to come.
- The path to more judicial appointments became even easier with net GOP pickups in the Senate.
If there is one thing that has made Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stand out during the first two years of President Donald Trump’s term, it’s been the rapid pace at which the chamber has confirmed judges.
And after Tuesday night’s midterm elections, it’s clear that McConnell is going to get the opportunity to exercise that talent for at least another two years.
In the first two years of Trump’s presidency, McConnell has been able to confirm a record number of judges. The number of circuit court judges confirmed under Trump are the most at this point in a presidency in nearly 40 years – and the 84 Trump-appointed judges confirmed across all courts is the most in one Senate dating back to President Ronald Reagan.
“You know what my top priority is, I have made it very clear, it’s the judiciary,” McConnell said. “The two Supreme Court appointments, the 29 circuit judges, the 84 overall number of judges, and we’re not through doing those this year.”
The slew of judicial appointments were aided by McConnell’s historic obstruction of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees from 2014 to 2016. By keeping all of those seats open, the Kentucky Republican has allowed Trump to already leave a major impact on America’s court system.
“Nearly one out of every six circuit court judges has been appointed by Trump and confirmed by the GOP Senate since 2017,” said Chris Kreuger, an analyst at Cowen Washington Research Group. “Another ~100 federal judges will now be confirmed via the GOP Senate over the next two years. The courts are the final arbiter of law and policy and they are being remade in Trump’s image.”
The slew of judges appointed by Trump and confirmed by McConnell is likely to be the longest lasting change of the president’s first four years, even Democratic Sen. Chris Coons told Business Insider last year that the judiciary overhaul will be “the single most important legacy of the Trump administration.”
With the GOP picking up at least two and as many as four seats in the Senate on Tuesday, the pathway to more judicial confirmations may even become easier, as Republicans’ razor-thin margin in the Senate over the past year gave moderate GOP members and Democrats the ability to block certain nominees.
“You now have the ability to push through many more of your nominees without some of the consternation on the Republican side,” Marc Short, the former White House director of legislative affairs, told Politico.
These Trump judges are likely to shape the political landscape for decades to come and help to preserve conservative policy gains around the country, since appointments on the country’s highest courts are for life.
The focus on judges is also more likely given the Democrats victory in the House. There’s not a lot of big, bipartisan legislation that’s expected to pass (outside of required bills like funding measures) during the divided Congress.