In a rare show of competency, he’s tapped five times as many judges as Obama had at this point—and conservatives are delighted.
The most critical government document released on Wednesday—the one that’ll have the most wide-ranging impact in the future—was not James Comey’s prepared testimony for the Senate Intelligence Committee about his interactions with Donald Trump. It was a simple press release, issued by the White House, announcing a “fourth wave” of judicial nominations since the Trump inauguration. The eleven nominations included four district court judgeships, three for the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, three for the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and one for the Court of Federal Claims. Conservatives were uniformly delighted.
All told, Trump has nominated 22 judges to fill vacancies across the federal bench. Thus far, only two—Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and Sixth Circuit Court Judge Amul Thapar—have been confirmed. But the prospect of filling vacancies over time explains a lot about why congressional Republicans have stood by Trump, despite the erratic and stormy start to his presidency. As long as Trump keeps funneling a steady supply of conservative jurists to the Senate, in a bid to dramatically reshape the federal courts, Republicans can go to bed happy that they’re fulfilling at least one major element of their political project.
Judicial nominations are the one area where the Trump administration is “running like a fine-tuned machine,” as the president boasted in February. In fact, Trump’s team has far outstripped the efforts of his predecessor. By this date eight years ago, President Obama had made just four judicial nominations: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and three nominations for the Court of Appeals.