Sanity, constitutional law returning to federal courts

Federal Court

MADISON — Forget the tweets. Forget the wall. Forget Denmark. More than halfway through his first term, Trump has nominated an impressive slate of originalist judges to the federal bench . With the  leadership of Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Senate had confirmed 146 federal judges as of August.

In other words, Trump nominees make up about one of every six federal judgeships. 

The quantity is impressive, but the quality of constitution-first judges now serving on the U.S. Supreme, appellate, and district courts is the real victory, says Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network.

Severino said these next-generation jurists approach the law and the constitution as it was originally written. 

“… Donald Trump has had a terrific track record so far, particularly in his Supreme Court justices, his appellate justices, people who have true track records of that kind of judging,” Severino recently told Empower Wisconsin on the Vicki McKenna Show on NewsTalk 1130 WISN. 

Severino is a member of the Federalist Society, an advocacy organization of conservatives and libertarians that believes “it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be.” 

That philosophy is at odds with the administrative state and the big-government left. They have been driven absolutely apoplectic by what they insist is the Federalist Society’s outsized influence on the president’s nominating decisions. 

“When you think about (failed Obama Supreme Court nominee) Merrick Garland and what McConnell has done to the Senate, there’s a lot of feeling of vengeance and revenge,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D.Ill.) told Politico earlier this summer. 

Revenge to many liberals means packing the courts with more judges to their political liking. They’ll have to take back power before they can do that.

In the same Politico piece, the reporters contend the “left has been radicalized by the Republican offensive…” The assertion is patently absurd to judicial watchers like Severino, who says Democrats have long tried packing the courts with liberal activist judges.  

“I think that’s the frustrating part of it. The left has been successful in tapping judges who are basically just their backstop,” she said. “When they can’t get something done in the democratic system, they then go to the courts, and the courts are all too often happy to oblige and give them whatever liberal policy outcome they want.” 

Badger State conservatives know all about liberal judge shopping. During Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s two terms in office, big labor and liberal advocacy groups cost taxpayers a hefty bill in defending laws like Act 10, voter ID, and more recently, the myriad laws that came out of the Republican-led Legislature’s extraordinary session. Liberals repeatedly won their arguments in front of progressive Dane County judges, only to have higher courts that understand the separation of powers overturns those rulings. 

Trump’s successful appointments are beginning to make a difference. Exhibit A: the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Sometimes referred to as the Ninth ‘Circus’ for its far left, head-shaking opinions, the San Francisco-based court appears to be changing direction. As of last month, Trump had selected seven of its 29 judges. 

Recently, a Ninth Circuit three-judge panel scaled back a lower-court ruling challenging Trump immigration policy. 

Severino said much work remains in reshaping the courts. The previous administration was extremely active in appointing liberal activist judges. 

“President Obama was there for eight years and by the end of his term, he had replaced about two-thirds of the federal judiciary. That’s a huge impact,” the legal expert said. “These are people with life tenure …”

“I think the important thing is to keep moving steadily on it and make sure we’re choosing these excellent judges, and then we can have these battles back where they belong, in the elected branches,” Severino added. 

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  1. Susan Avatar

    I am so happy to See President Trump focus on the judiciary, and hope we in Wisconsin can have a civil conversation during the 2020 election season.

    The recent allegations on Justice Kavanaugh are not only sad and damaging, they are an obvious ploy for a very panicked democrat party. Not very democratic if you ask me!

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