While Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s controversial comments directed at President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominees made headlines, the chief executive recently surpassed a historic benchmark in the placement of judges on the federal bench, including both the appeals court and district court levels.
“President Trump has set the all-time record for the number of judges appointed to the critically important federal courts of appeals,” Mike Davis, president of the Article III Project, told The Western Journal.
So far, Trump has appointed 51 federal court of appeals judges.
“He’s No. 2 overall for the number of all Article III judges appointed at this point in any presidency,” Davis said.
Only Jimmy Carter had a higher total — 211 versus 193 — mainly because Congress created many new judicial positions during his term in office.
Thomas Jipping — a senior legal fellow with The Heritage Foundation and former chief legal counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee — wrote that Carter signed legislation in 1978 establishing 151 judgeships.
The since-deceased Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, then the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, proceeded to hold 139 confirmation hearings in 1979 alone (Carter’s third year in office), leading to 135 successful new judicial appointments, which is the annual record to this day.
Putting aside Carter’s total as an outlier, Bill Clinton had appointed the most judges to the federal bench of any president in U.S. history, 186, at the same point of their tenure in office.
However, Trump surpassed him during the middle of last month, thanks in part to the confirmation of four new district court judges.
And last week, the Senate confirmed Trump’s nomination of Silvia Carreño-Coll to the federal district court in Puerto Rico in a unanimous 96-0 vote.
“President Trump is doing a phenomenal job in filling the federal judiciary with highly qualified originalists and textualists judges, just like the president said he would when he campaigned for office,” Davis said.
Jipping said he agreed, noting in a statement to The Western Journal that Trump’s success has come despite an “unprecedented resistance campaign.”
Cloture votes can delay the final confirmation vote by multiple legislative days.
By way of comparison, Republicans only required cloture on 3 percent (four judges) of former President Barack Obama’s picks at the same point in his time in office.
It is not because Trump nominees lack the qualifications.
“Two-thirds of his nominees have been rated well qualified by the liberal American Bar Association, compared to 64.5% of President Obama’s nominees at this point,” Jipping said.
“Majority Leader [Mitch] McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman [Lindsey] Graham appear determined to continue this robust confirmation pace and make more progress toward properly staffing the judiciary,” the legal expert added.
McConnell took Schumer to task on Thursday for controversial comments the New York senator directed at Trump’s Supreme Court appointees: Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
“I want to tell you, Gorsuch. I want to tell you, Kavanaugh. You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price!” Schumer warned at an abortion rights rally in front of the Supreme Court the previous day.
“You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions,” the Senate minority leader added.
McConnell responded from the Senate floor, “There is nothing to call this except a threat, and there is absolutely no question to whom, to whom it was directed.”
“The minority leader of the United States Senate threatened two associate justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, period. There’s no other way to interpret that,” he said.
Schumer conceded he exercised poor word choice, but chastised Republicans for “manufacturing outrage” over his remarks.
“I shouldn’t have used the words I did, but in no way was I making a threat. I never, never would do such a thing. And Leader McConnell knows that. And Republicans who are busy manufacturing outrage over these comments know that, too,” the lawmaker added.
Schumer also accused Republicans of trying to shape the judiciary in order to “take down Roe v. Wade” and “strip away women’s rights and fundamentally change this country.”
GOP Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri introduced a resolution on Thursday to censure Schumer for his controversial comments.
According to a news release from Hawley’s office, Sens. Steve Daines of Montana, Mike Braun of Indiana, Rick Scott of Florida, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas, David Perdue of Georgia, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma and Martha McSally of Arizona are all original co-sponsors of the resolution.