WASHINGTON, D.C.—President Donald Trump knows he is creating a legacy with his judicial nominees that could last decades. Establishment media outlets are painting these nominees as a motley crew that Republican senators are supporting because they have no choice, but conservative leaders say that is far from the truth.
The president has nominated 56 picks thus far for roughly 145 judicial seats that are currently open, with another 20 seats that are already certain to open up in the next several months. The Senate has only confirmed seven of those 56 (including Justice Neil Gorsuch—so only six confirmations that have gone through the “normal” appointment process), but conservatives could not be happier with the president’s selections.
“We are thrilled with the nominees that we have been seeing coming out of this administration,” said Carrie Severino, chief counsel at the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN), perhaps the leading organization for confirming President Trump’s nominees to the bench. “It an issue that unites Republicans of all stripes.”
Media outlets have tried to shine spotlights on what they obviously consider politically damaging statements, but nominees continue to move through the confirmation process anyway.
Newly installed Judge John Bush of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit had previously blogged that slavery and abortion were the “two greatest tragedies” to result from Supreme Court decisions in American history, including his observation that both decisions (Dred Scott for slavery and Roe v. Wade for abortion) “relied on similar reasoning and activist judges.”
One trial court nominee called President Barack Obama’s push for new and expanded gun controls in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy the “greatest attack on our constitutional freedoms in our lifetime.” (The nominee was perhaps aware that before becoming president, Obama had said he believed the Constitution would allow completely banning handguns nationwide, and that Attorney General Eric Holder had joined a Supreme Court brief in 2008 arguing that the Second Amendment is not a constitutional right at all in the historic District of Columbia v. Heller case.)
The New York Times framed this narrative with the headline, “Trump and McConnell See a Way to Make Conservatives Happy,” as if this were some tactic to satisfy the GOP base.
The reality is that those close to the president firmly assert that President Trump sees appointing judges who adhere to the Constitution and federal laws as they are written as a top priority for his administration. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), too, has a record of favoring constitutionalist judges, though conservatives have been dissatisfied with the pace of judicial nominations thus far.
“The judge story is an untold story,” said President Trump in a Monday press conference with McConnell in the Rose Garden.
The president highlighted how the president sees this as a lasting legacy of his time in office, adding that his judicial appointments have “consequences 40 years out—depending on the age of the judge—but 40 years out.”
Most Senate Republicans know this to be a winning issue as well, as recently demonstrated by how well it resonated with the voters as one of the driving issues behind President Trump’s 2016 election victory—and know it could become a defining issue of the 2018 midterms.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.