President Trump’s fifth court pick was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday. Alabama lawyer Kevin Christopher Newsom was confirmed to a seat on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on a 66-31 vote, with 16 Democrats joining the GOP.
Judge Newsom is President Trump’s the third circuit judge confirmed so far, and combined with one district judge and Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, puts the president and the GOP-led Senate well ahead of his predecessor.
President Obama had zero judges confirmed in his first six months and it took him until November of 2009 to get three circuit court nominees through the Senate. President George W. Bush had one circuit judge and two district judges confirmed by August of his first term.
According to the Washington Times, the Trump administration has moved faster on filling judicial vacancies compared to the past administrations because it works with and consults senators, regardless of political affiliation, to select high-caliber nominees. Although Mr. Newsom was the president’s fifth confirmed judicial pick, Mr. Trump still has more than a dozen nominees still waiting to be cleared by lawmakers. According to the administration’s count, there are seven circuit court nominees and 17 district court nominees pending in the Senate
In addition to the vacant Supreme Court seat, President Trump inherited more than 100 federal court vacancies to fill and another 12 federal judges have announced plans to leave their posts later this year. So far Trump has announced a total of 28 judicial picks.
Jeffrey Toobin reports that during that same period in his first term, Obama nominated only four district judges and five appeals-court judges. If you include U.S. Attorneys, Trump nominated fifty-five people, and Obama just twenty-two.
Trump is on course to reshape the judiciary in a notably conservative direction, even if he doesn’t get any more appointments to the Supreme Court. John Malcolm, legal and judicial studies director for the Heritage Foundation, told the Washington Times that “appointing constitutionalist judges may well become the most lasting legacy of the Trump administration.”