Trump appointees shifting balance on 9th Circuit

Once the president’s current 9th Circuit nominees are confirmed, there will be 12 GOP appointees

Eric Miller, recently confirmed as a judge for the 9th Circuit, attends a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Oct. 24, 2018. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

President Trump and conservative commentators routinely mock the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit as intolerably liberal: It’s the “Ninth Circus” to Rush Limbaugh, the “Nutty Ninth” to former NRATV commentator Dan Bongino, “a complete & total disaster,” according to the president. For the political right, it’s an institution loathed for once finding that the words “under God” meant mandatory public-school recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance runs afoul of the First Amendment; for once engaging in an all-night battle with the Supreme Court over the constitutionality of an execution; and for thrice enjoining the Trump administration’s infamous travel ban. The 9th Circuit is so notorious among congressional Republicans that as recently as the last Congress, they held hearings to consider splitting up the circuit geographically, on the premise its rulings, which once applied to a reported 4 percent of the country, now cover 20 percent of Americans — too much liberal influence, perhaps.

But that’s about to change. Once the president’s current 9th Circuit nominees are confirmed, there will be 12 GOP appointees among the court’s 29 full-time judges with one vacancy left for the president to fill. Almost half the bench will lean right. Thanks to Trump, the liberal 9th Circuit will be liberal no more.

The president has conservative nominees slated to fill four out of five vacancies: Daniel P. Collins, who, according to Climate Liability News, “has defended the oil industry in high-profile climate and environmental cases,” and who clerked for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia; Daniel A. Bress, who also clerked for Scalia and, at 39, would likely serve on the federal appellate bench for decades; Kenneth Lee, who worked in President George W. Bush’s White House and has written articles criticizing affirmative action programs; and Bridget Bade, a federal magistrate judge who clerked for conservative Judge Edith Jones of the 5th Circuit.

If they’re ultimately confirmed, these four will join three recent Trump appointees already on the 9th Circuit with conservative bona fides: Ryan D. Nelson, who served on the staff of former senator and Trump attorney general Jeff Sessions; Mark Bennett, a onetime Republican attorney general of Hawaii; and Eric Miller, who clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas, was opposed by liberal-leaning Native American advocacy organizations and was confirmed earlier this week over the objections of both of his Democratic home-state senators.

Full story at The Washington Post.

Comments

  1. Judges nominated as promised. Giddy up Linsey!

  2. Forum moderators. You print a great rand optimistic eport on the 9th Circuit and then sully the page with a photo of Kamala Harris. Naughty you! Just the same, I’m smiling.

  3. Can the Republicans split California if they try to redraw the Ninth Circuit? At 40 mil population, the state is about 15% of the population. Then how do they split the twelve judges they like. Besides, they had two years to do something and did not So selecting younger, conservative judges is their best option at this point.

    • Your Fellow Catholic says

      No doubt the ninth is enormous, but it’s not clear whether that affects how justice is accomplished, since it sits in several places and would likely have the same number of judges and same number of courthouses after it would be split.

      How about we merge the Dakotas, which together have a joint population under 1.5 million people, smaller than the population of San Francisco Oakland Bay Area, yet they get 4 senators and 6 electoral college votes.

  4. Anonymous says

    Great news! A laughingstock, for years! Hopefully– the 9th “Circus” will now have more respectability!

  5. I think we can stipulate that the Ninth is a bit to the left of center and often over-ruled by the Supreme Court. Ergo, a little levening isn’t all bad. But the comments about the article and the edited article itself is a bit disturbing. It implies that loosening regulations of the oil industry is a good thing, that being against ensuring equal opportunity is a good thing, that being pro-death penalty is a good thing, that not respecting the sovereignty of Native Americans is a good thing, and ignoring climate change is a good thing. All of those things are against the teachings of the Catholic Church, are they not? At some point, people have to decide if they are Catholic or ultra-right wing

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