Today marks a milestone for the Trump Administration. The United States Senate has confirmed 200 Article III judges nominated by President Trump, including 2 Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, 53 judges for the United States Courts of Appeals, 143 judges for the United States District Courts, and 2 judges for the United States Court of International Trade. There are currently 44 nominations to Article III courts awaiting Senate action, including 43 for the District Courts and 1 for the Court of International Trade. There are currently 71 vacancies on the U.S. District Courts, 2 vacancies on the U.S. Court of International Trade, and 2 announced federal judicial vacancies that will occur before the end of Trump’s first term (2 for District Courts), Trump has not made any recess appointments to the federal courts.
Cory Wilson, was confirmed in a 52-48 vote. He is a Mississippi appeals court judge and former Republican lawmaker and will preside over the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) was the sole Republican to vote against his nomination, along with all Democrats.
Mitch McConnell made a statement after the confirmation, “There will not be a single court vacancy anywhere in the nation for the first time in at least 40 years,” He continued, “Our work with the administration to renew our federal courts is not a partisan or political victory. It’s a victory for the rule of law and for the Constitution itself.”
Former President Jimmy Carter is the only other President to have appointed more judges with 228 appointed judges by this time in his term.
The White House tweeted in celebration:
BREAKING: The Senate just confirmed President @realDonaldTrump's 200th judicial nominee! pic.twitter.com/zniCwkEexW
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) June 24, 2020
Article III federal judges are appointed for life terms by the president of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate per Article III of the United States Constitution. Article III judges include judges on the: Supreme Court of the United States, U.S. courts of appeal, U.S. district courts, and the Court of International Trade. President Trump has reshaped the federal judiciary with young, conservative judges during his first term.
Former President Ronald Reagan made the following remarks during the swearing-in ceremony for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on September 26, 1986:
“In a small room in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787, they [our Founding Fathers] debated whether the Justices should have life terms or not, whether they should be part of one or the other branches or not, and whether they should have the right to declare acts of the other branches of government unconstitutional or not”.
He continued, “They settled on a judiciary that would be independent and strong, but one whose power would also, they believed, be confined within the boundaries of a written Constitution and laws. In the convention and during the debates on ratification, some said that there was a danger of the courts making laws rather than interpreting them. The framers of our Constitution believed, however, that the judiciary they envisioned would be ‘the least dangerous’ branch of the Government, because, as Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers, it had `neither force nor will, but merely judgment.’ The judicial branch interprets the laws, while the power to make and execute those laws is balanced in the two elected branches. And this was one thing that Americans of all persuasions supported”.