President-elect Donald Trump will be free to appoint over 100 federal court vacancies as well as a Supreme Court justice when he becomes president next month.
103 federal court positions will be left to Trump’s discretion when he assumes office, almost double that of Barack Obama in 2008, who had 54.
The appointments will be an opportunity for Trump to push forward a conservative agenda, with judges responsible for laws surrounding everything from gun rights to immigration and equality law.
Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the conservative group Judicial Crisis Network, which campaigned against many of Obama’s court choices, said that she was “optimistic he’ll [Trump] come at this right out of the gate.”
“Every president can expect to make a huge impact. [Trump] is unique in having campaigned really hard on this issue, the significance of the courts, and of the Supreme Court in particular,” she continued.
The vacancy on the Supreme Court comes following the death of conservative Supreme Court judge Justice Antonin Scalia in February earlier this year.
The question of the Supreme Court nominee became a defining issue for conservatives during the presidential election campaign, with Trump regularly promising to appoint a conservative in order to appeal to the Republican base.
“The replacement of our beloved Justice Scalia will be a person of similar views, principles and judicial philosophies. This will be one of the most important issues decided by this election,” Trump said as part of his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.
Trump’s administration will be expected to move quickly on the appointments to federal judiciaries, especially for the 38 so-called ‘judicial emergencies,’ where local cases have been severely backlogged as a result of empty seats.
White House Counsel Don McGahn is expected to play a prominent role in helping to pick candidates for the empty seats.
Barack Obama previously faced difficulties appointing many of his chosen candidates as a result of the Republican-controlled Senate. However, given Trump’s promise to put forward conservative candidates in a Republican-controlled House and Senate, his court picks are likely to face considerably less obstruction.