Donald Trump and the Plot to Take Over the Courts
Published in The Nation
The Federalist Society and McConnell want the same thing: the supremacy of the Republican political agenda. And now they’ve almost won. We stand on the brink of a precipice. In March, Trump finally flipped the critical Third Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware), achieving a majority of judges appointed by Republicans instead of Democrats. In other regions, he’s made the GOP-controlled circuit courts even more conservative.
The Republicans, of course, already control the Supreme Court. If Trump wins a second term, the conservative Anschluss of the lower courts will be complete. And these courts are incredibly important. The Supreme Court heard only about 70 cases during its 2018–19 term, out of nearly 7,000 that are filed annually for potential review. For all the cases that are not taken up by the Supreme Court—the vast majority—these lower courts serve as the final arbiter.
Nothing can reasonably be done to remove the people on Trump’s Court from their current positions. The damage they’ll do for the rest of their lives is our collective punishment for not caring or voting on the basis of court appointments sooner. But we should know who these new judges are, and we should understand what they’re up to.
Institutions like the Alliance for Justice have done a thorough job of tracking the men and women who make up the Trump Court, and their reports make for illuminating, if terrifying, reading.