Newspaper column: Trump is reshaping the federal judiciary — for the better

Thanks, Harry, because you exercised the “nuclear option” in 2013, ending the requirement that judges had to be confirmed by at least 60 senators instead of a simple majority, President Donald Trump has secured the appointments of about twice as many federal judges as each of his three predecessors — and most of them have been conservatives sworn to protect the fundamental liberties spelled out in the Constitution.

Of the 50 circuit court judges nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate, only 17 managed to garner the previously mandated 60 Senate votes. Among those was former Nevada Solicitor General Lawrence VanDyke, who was confirmed by a vote of 51-44 with both of Nevada’s Democratic senators choosing politics over principles and voting “nay.”

In November 2013, then-Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada exercised the nuclear option, calling for changing the Senate rules by a simple majority vote. It passed, 52-48 with three Democrats voting against changing the rules.

President Barack Obama praised the action saying Republicans were blocking his nominees based on politics alone, not on the merits of the nominee, according to a Politico account at the time.

Then-Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky tried to recess the Senate for the day to block the vote. “The solution to this problem is an election,” he said. “The solution to this problem is at the ballot box. We look forward to having a great election on 2014.”

Republicans regained the majority in the Senate in 2014. In 2017, now-Majority Leader McConnell further changed the rules to allow confirmation of Supreme Court justices by a simple majority. Neil Gorsuch was confirmed by a 54-45 vote, and Brett Kavanaugh by 50-48.

In addition, the Senate has confirmed 133 of Trump’s federal district court nominees. While most of those garnered more than 60 recorded votes, many were confirmed by a voice vote.

In an editorial praising the caliber of the Trump judicial nominees, The Wall Street Journal noted, “The Trump-McConnell judiciary may be Harry’s finest achievement.”

The editorial noted that when Trump took office, Democratic appointees made up a majority on nine of the 13 circuit courts. Trump’s 2019 appointments flipped the majorities in the 2nd, 3rd and 11th Circuit Courts, meaning seven circuits now have a majority of Republican appointees.

In addition, the longtime uber-liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, to which VanDyke was appointed, now consists of 16 Democratic appointees and 13 Republican appointees. “Expect fewer headlines featuring nationwide injunctions out of San Francisco,” the editorial opined.

The Journal editorial predicts, “The new wave of conservative judges is more likely to protect such core liberties as religious freedom, political speech and assembly, gun and property rights. Many will also be more alert to violations of the Constitution’s separation of powers, including regulatory abuses. Yet there are varying opinions on criminal law, executive authority, and the scope of judicial restraint, among other issues.”

Reid is nothing if not consistent. In a recent op-ed in The Salt Lake Tribune, Reid complained, “Senate Republicans have hijacked our Supreme Court. They stole a seat that should have been filled by President Obama in 2016 and they rushed to confirm Brett Kavanaugh last year despite ample evidence that he lied to Congress. The result is the Supreme Court is now a ticking time bomb, set to blow up any meaningful progressive reforms for decades to come.”

He concedes his own role in the outcome, saying, “Changing the rules to confirm Obama’s highly qualified judges was the right and necessary thing to do. If we had not done it, Donald Trump would have inherited more judicial vacancies than he already did, and then even more of his right-wing ideologues would be on the bench today eviscerating rights Americans have long held dear.”

Like the Second Amendment right to gun ownership? Or the First Amendment rights of free speech and exercise of religion? The rights delineated in the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth amendments?

A recent Washington Examiner editorial also notes what Reid has unintentionally wrought and concludes, “During his run for the presidency, Trump regularly and energetically promised to make a priority of putting well-credentialed conservatives of excellent character and scholarship on the federal bench. It is a promise he has kept, much to his credit and for the country’s greater good.”

A version of this column appeared this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel and the Lincoln County Record — and the Elko Daily Free Press.

13 comments on “Newspaper column: Trump is reshaping the federal judiciary — for the better

  1. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, the Conservatives are all aboard when it comes to not interpreting the Constitution exactly as written. The Second Amendment is a good example: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    To be consistent, anyone declaring the limiting of assault weapon ownership unconstitutional must also consider limiting ownership of shoulder fired missiles or even nuclear weapons to also be unconstitutional.

  2. Rincon says:

    Sorry, Anonymous is me.

  3. Steve says:

    Anyone can own a nuclear weapon. Try getting refined uranium, that stuff is totally controlled. In fact, they shut down the whole city of Rochester when Eastman Kodak called the DOD to let them know about 20lbs of refined uranium they had been using to scan through different materials. Kodak had the uranium since the 1950’s. I knew about it through the company grapevine before the news broke.
    But you most certainly can own a nuclear bomb…just not the uranium.

    You can buy an SA-18 for about 80,000.00 You can get surplus flame throwers for about 10,000.00

    Probably don’t need to continue. I made my point.

  4. Anonymous says:

    The next democrat to have control of the Congress (which is to say the one elected in 2020) need only act pursuant to the Constitution and limit the jurisdiction of any court where they see the corrupt influence of the right is present. That would typically be any court where this president has placed a jurist to the court.

    Congress has the authority to create courts and implicitly to define the jurisdiction of the courts (another than the Supreme Court which will have to be properly dealt with aka FDR style) and if the far right lunatic fringe thinks that democrats and the country will simply lay down while they act contrary to the will of the majority of the people (Citizens United, Hobby Lobby, Gerrymandering) they got another thing coming.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’m guessing the principle Nevada’s representatives acted on when they voted against Lawrence Van Duke was the principle of not voting for unqualified judges.

    Imagine that,

  6. Rincon says:

    Really Steve? What is your point? You can’t just say it directly? Are you saying that everyone should be able to buy a shoulder fired missile so long as they have the money or that these weapons are legal anyway, so what the hell? Or something else?

  7. Steve says:

    You are really blind, Rincon. You couldn’t see a point if it were poking you in the face.

    The words” Are you saying” is how you make shit up. I said what I said. You just don’t like it’s true.

    OK then, lets spoon feed you, since that is what you always seem to demand.

    That stuff is already fully available….(except uranium, that is the one thing you can’t get w/o attracting real attention)

  8. Rincon says:

    Whether you think I’m blind or not is entirely irrelevant. You still haven’t expressed an opinion. You only claimed that this “stuff” is presently available, although you failed to specify how easy of difficult it is. Quit chattering, and say whether you think flame throwers and shoulder fired missiles should be available at your friendly neighborhood gun store at a reasonably low price or not. And if so, should felons and nut cases be allowed to purchase them?

  9. Steve says:

    I mentioned costs.
    Clearly stated uranium is not obtainable.

    Stop deflecting. You know as well as I this stuff is easily obtained.

    For a price.

  10. Rincon says:

    You have shown no evidence that your assertions are true. If this stuff is easily obtained, then you should have no trouble locating a source. Show me a dealer that will sell me a live hand grenade or shoulder fired missile at any price, and then I might believe you.

  11. Steve says:

    The internet has these really neat things called search engines.

    I know you have the ability to use them because you do so constantly with clear bias in hunting for results favorable to your own.

    Try looking for the stuff not favorable to your own bias.

    I know, I know…stepping out of your echo chamber seems like all you gotta do is come here and rant or allow for some things but it really does take a lot more than just reading this stuff.

    Get outside your safe space. Hell, that should be easy. Even the Washington Post did stuff on how easy it is to buy shoulder fired missiles!

    Calling you out, stop the BS

  12. Rincon says:

    People who can’t support their own beliefs don’t deserve an audience.

  13. Steve says:


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