Donald Trump Is Doing One Thing Well: Appointing Lifetime Judges

From the Los Angeles Times:

Brett J. Talley, President Trump’s nominee to be a federal judge in Alabama, has never tried a case, was unanimously rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Assn.’s judicial rating committee, has practiced law for only three years and, as a blogger last year, displayed a degree of partisanship unusual for a judicial nominee, denouncing “Hillary Rotten Clinton” and pledging support for the National Rifle Assn.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee, on a party-line vote, approved him for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench.

So what qualification did Talley have? Answer: he’s conservative and he’s young. At age 36, he’s likely to stay on the bench 30 or 40 more years. He’s also white and male, which seems to be something Trump values pretty highly too:

That chart comes from “How Donald Trump Is Remaking the Federal Courts in His Own Image,” a piece by Kate Harloe on our main site. It’s worth a read. Thanks to Republican stonewalling in 2016, there are a huge number of judicial vacancies for Trump to fill, and it turns out that this is one of the few things he’s doing with speed and efficiency:

Beyond new Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump has already nominated judges to more than half the vacancies, putting forward an astonishing 18 names for federal appellate courts and 40 more for the district courts. Of those, 12 have been confirmed. By this time in Obama’s first year, only two circuit court judges and four district judges had been confirmed.

This is one reason why Republicans are so loath to criticize Trump. Sure, they want to pass their tax bill, and they need Trump for that. But they also want to remake the federal judiciary, and as long as Trump keeps sending them Federalist Society nominees they’re not likely to care too much what else he does.

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In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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