Category Archives: Donald Trump

Donald Trump’s Judicial Appointments: His Most Enduring Legacy

Conservatism, Constitution, Donald Trump, Justice, Law

“Everything else could in theory be reversed. [Trump’s] effect on the law will be profound,” writes The Economist:

.. No president has confirmed more federal appellate judges (12) in his first year than Donald Trump. He has also seen six federal district-court judges confirmed, and one Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch. Another 47 nominees await confirmation; 102 more federal judgeships remain open for Mr Trump to fill. With two of the Supreme Court’s liberal justices, and its one unpredictable member (Anthony Kennedy) aged 79 or older, the president may get to name another justice, cementing the Court’s conservative bent.

Mr Trump’s tax reform, penchant for deregulation and foreign-policy direction could all be reversed by the next president. But because federal judges serve for life, the largely young conservatives whom Mr Trump has placed on the bench will have an impact on American life and law that long outlasts his administration.

The federal judiciary is organised into 12 regional circuits and the nine-member Supreme Court. Around 400,000 cases are filed yearly in the federal system, which has around 1,700 judges. Each of these circuits has several district courts (there are 94 in all), which hear civil and criminal federal cases, and one appellate court (there are 13: one for each circuit and the appellate court for the federal circuit), which hears appeals against decisions made by federal district courts and agencies. Because the Supreme Court hears so few cases, federal appellate courts define most contested matters of federal law.

Every president leaves his mark on the federal bench, but Mr Trump’s will be larger than most, for two reasons. First, Senate Republicans confirmed fewer judges in Barack Obama’s last two years (22) than in any two-year period since 1951-52. Mr Obama left office with 107 federal judgeships still vacant—including Mr Gorsuch’s seat, held open because Senate Republicans refused to give Merrick Garland, Mr Obama’s nominee, a hearing. This was more than twice the number George W. Bush had at his presidency’s end. Second, in 2013 Senate Democrats eliminated the filibuster for lower-court nominees, which means judges can be confirmed with a simple majority vote, rather than the 60 required to break a filibuster. For many conservatives, this opportunity alone—rather than fear of letting Hillary Clinton exploit it—justified their support for Mr Trump.

He has not disappointed. …

… Mr Trump has nominated orthodox conservatives whom the Republican-controlled Senate has happily confirmed.

During his campaign, Mr Trump promised that the judges he nominated would be “all picked by the Federalist Society”, America’s leading organisation of conservative and libertarian lawyers. Many of his nominees have ties to the group, as do Mr Gorsuch and Don McGahn, the president’s counsel. Mr McGahn told a Federalist Society gathering in November that the administration wanted to nominate “strong and smart judges…committed originalists and textualists [who] possess the fortitude to enforce the rule of law”. Mr Trump’s nominees, he crowed, “all have paper trails…there is nothing unknown about them.”

That list of qualities contains subtle digs at the two types of judges conservatives want to avoid. The first, embodied by David Souter, whom George H.W. Bush appointed, is the nominee with a thin record on constitutional issues who turns liberal on the bench. John Roberts, the current chief justice, exemplifies the second type: many conservatives deride him as a squishy institutionalist who caved in to public pressure when he twice voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act.

The maturing of the conservative legal movement, which was in its infancy when Mr Bush picked Mr Souter in 1990, and the strength of its pipeline and networks, has made wild-card nominees less likely, particularly under Mr Trump, who appears happy to be guided by the “Federalist people”. That does not mean, of course, that presidents know how judges will vote on each issue for ever. But Republican judicial nominees share a legal philosophy that is sceptical of executive and federal power and inclined towards “originalism”, which interprets the constitution’s meaning narrowly, as it would have been understood when it was written.

The Economist: “Donald Trump’s judicial appointments may prove his most enduring legacy.”

NEW COLUMN: Why Trump Pooh-Poohed “S-ithole” Countries (Part 2)

Africa, America, Donald Trump, Human Accomplishment, IMMIGRATION, Individual Rights, Political Philosophy

NEW COLUMN, now on Townhall.com, is “Why Trump Pooh-Poohed “S-ithole” Countries (Part 2).

Part 1 was “Trump’s ‘Shithole’ Controversy Deconstructed.

An excerpt from Why Trump Pooh-Poohed “S-ithole” Countries (Part 2):

… be it Africa or Arabia, the Left labors under the romantic delusion that the effects of millennia of development-resistant, self-defeating, fatalistic, atavistic, superstition-infused, unfathomably cruel cultures can be cured by an infusion of foreign aid, by the removal of tyrants such as Robert Mugabe or Jacob Zuma, or by bringing the underdeveloped world to The West. (Left-libertarian Katherine Mangu-Ward actually told Tucker Carlson that, “If we had a billion people in America, America would be unstoppable. That would be amazing.”)

Alas, bad leaders are not what shackle backward peoples. Not exclusively, at least. And Africa’s plight is most certainly not the West’s fault. Rather, Africa is a culmination of the failure of the people to develop the attitudes and institutions favorable to peace and progress.

However, while human behavior is mediated by values, we’d be intellectually remiss to deny that the cultural argument is flawed. It affords a circular, rather than a causal elegance: people are said to do the things they do because they are who they are and have a history of being that way. See what I mean by flawed?

What precisely, then, accounts for the unequal “civilizing potential,” as James Burnham called it, that groups display? Why have some people produced Confucian and Anglo-Protestant ethics—with their mutual emphasis on graft and delayed gratification—while others have midwifed Islamic and animistic values, emphasizing conformity, consensus, and control?
Why have certain patterns of thought and action come to typify certain people in the first place? …

… READ THE COMPLETE COLUMN. “Why Trump Pooh-Poohed “S-ithole” Countries (Part 2)” is on Townhall.com, where you can read Part 1: “Trump’s ‘Shithole’ Controversy Deconstructed.” 

Sign up to receive my weekly column, now in its 19th year, here: http://www.ilanamercer.com/mailing-list/.  Catch up @ ilanamercer.com.

SOTU UPDATED (2/1/018): Droolius Kennedy The Third

Celebrity, Democrats, Donald Trump, Family, IMMIGRATION

Droolius Kennedy the III. What a hackneyed, weak, dumb rebuttal Rep. Joe Kennedy delivered to President Trump’s SOTU. Essentially, We Are The World. Via Fox News:

“And to all the Dreamers watching tonight, let me be clear: You are a part of our story. We will fight for you. We will not walk away.”

Kennedy was referring to the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Those immigrants were protected by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was eliminated by the Trump administration in September. The administration, however, offered Congress a six-month window to create legislation to protect dreamers.

As for the personal charm:

UPDATE (2/1/018):

Melania compared to Pelosi and her posse of crows.

Nancy Pelosi chewing the cud, moving the Polident, smoothing the collagen, the Botox—what do you think?

“Pathway To Citizenship”: What Will Happen If President Trump Says Those Words, Tomorrow

Bush, Donald Trump, IMMIGRATION, Neoconservatism, Republicans

A source who shall remain anonymous writes:

If tomorrow night President Donald Trump utters the words “pathway to citizenship,” it will mark one of the biggest betrayals of the modern era and the effective end of his presidency.

1) He will cause the 2018 midterms to be a Democratic victory as a significant part of the demoralized and disillusioned base stays home and we lose the House – and perhaps even the senate.

2) Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats will impeach him in the House.

3) A Democrat-controlled Senate will proceed with a trial. A Republican-controlled Senate will not proceed with trial but nothing Trump wants will come out of the House and his “America First” agenda will be neutralized.

4) Trump will be challenged from the Right in the 2020 presidential primaries.

My well-connected source’s own sources tell him that, “Trump is proceeding down this road of self-immolation”:

The Koch brothers successfully infiltrated their agent, Marc Short, into the inner sanctum. Short, who led the Koch’s Never Trump movement in 2016, has teamed up with Establishment lackey Kirstjen Nielsen [with whom I was actually quite taken] and the princess regent Ivanka [whom I’ve grown to detest] to sideline and neutralize Stephen Miller, the last remaining voice for immigration sanity. [First they came for Steve Bannon, now it’s Steve Miller’s turn.]

Trump is being pushed off the cliff with all the happy talk from this cabal, buttressed by Lindsay Graham, Marco Rubio, Jeff Flake and Paul Ryan. In summation, the entire rabid Never Trump partisans are now in control of POTUS and are succeeding in getting him to do their immigration policy:

Amnesty now. Enforcement later, maybe.

No effectual changes to chain migration for at least ten years since all pre-existing applicants for green cards are grandfathered in . That’s at least a ten-year backlog.

This is the 1986 Bill on steroids.

The headline, all over conservative and populist media on Wednesday morning will be one word: betrayal.

We who want Trump to succeed have been trying to head this off all week, since this country killing plan was first floated in the press. Seemingly to no avail. Trump is cocooned, just as he was and continues to be on foreign policy. He’s captive to the neocon interventionists AND now to the open borders, cheap-labor lobby as well.

It’s as if we had elected JEB Bush.

This is NOT America First.

What a colossal disappointment. On Wednesday morning Trump supporters will be in disarray, the Conservative movement will be fractured and, once again, Republicans will be at each other’s throats – as the Kochs, the Bushes, Bill Kristol and all the other members of the Never Trump cabal are filled with glee and satisfaction as they celebrate the beginning of the end of his presidency.