WASHINGTON, DC – Senators on Thursday confirmed the 100th judge nominated by President Donald Trump, marking a major milestone in the president’s pledge to replenish the federal courts with judges like the late originalist icon Antonin Scalia.
The full Senate on Thursday confirmed Rodolfo Ruiz to be a district judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. While that name does not ring a bell with most Americans – and while that court might not seem like a major national concern – Ruiz’s confirmation to that federal trial court represents something big regarding one of the top reasons voters sent President Trump to the White House.
Supreme Court picks have been a major topic of presidential elections for decades, but for some voters the topic seemed a bit abstract, not knowing which justice would retire from the Court at what time and therefore what would be at stake over the upcoming four-year presidential term.
With the sudden passing of Scalia in February 2016, the future of the Court went from abstract theory to crystal-clear fact. Whether it was the Supreme Court’s recognizing the Second Amendment right to bear arms as an individual right or upholding Obamacare’s individual mandate as a tax, people could study a host of historic cases decided by a 5-4 split vote, look at how Scalia voted, do the math, and understand the stakes.
Candidate Trump made clear that he wanted judges who would interpret federal law according to the text of the laws Congress passes, and interpret the Constitution according to the original public meaning of its words. He even published a list of potential Supreme Court picks from which he would choose new justices.
Polls showed that half of voters considered judicial appointments when casting their vote for president, and that one voter in five made it their top issue. President Trump won those voters by a 16-point margin.
The president has had two Supreme Court picks: Justice Neil Gorsuch and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. But while the Supreme Court is the highest court in the nation, less than one percent of federal appeals make it to the Supreme Court. The lower courts matter tremendously.
President Trump has appointed 37 judges to the U.S. courts of appeals. These include several judges now on the president’s list for the Supreme Court, such as Judge Amul Thapar of the Sixth Circuit and Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh Circuit. They also include several other judges who have distinguished themselves with their judicial opinions, while experts uniformly expect that number of newsworthy judges to increase.
The president has also appointed 60 judges to the U.S. district courts, where trials are conducted. New Senate procedures have sidelined Democrats’ obstruction efforts to block trial judges, so that number is expected to increase quickly as well.
Someone might say it is premature to spike the football for judge 100, pointing out that one judge appears on both lists. Judge Marvin Quattlebaum was confirmed to a district judgeship in South Carolina in 2018, then elevated to the Fourth Circuit appeals court only months later.
Not to sorry. The Senate this week also confirmed Joshua Wolson to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. So no matter how a person chooses to count, President Trump is now into the triple digits on installing judges to lifetime appointments, with another year and a half to go in this presidential term.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal analyst for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.