Senate and Barack Obama Transform Federal Appeals Court

Back when Harry Reid invoked “the nuclear option” and made it easy to confirm judges to the Federal appeals court by a simple majority in the Senate, I hoped that this would backfire on him. It still might. But I am compelled to admit that right now, it looks like the Senate has made profitable use of their new powers.

gavel on white background

Thus, the New York Times:

Democrats have reversed the partisan imbalance on the federal appeals court that long favored conservatives, a little-noticed shift with far-reaching consequences for the law and President Obama’s legacy.

For the first time in more than a decade, judges appointed by Democratic presidents considerably outnumber judges appointed by Republican presidents. The Democrats’ advantage has only grown since late last year when they stripped Republicans of their ability to filibuster the president’s nominees.

Democratic appointees who hear cases full time now hold a majority of seats on nine of the 13 United States Courts of Appeals. When Mr. Obama took office, only one of those courts had more full-time judges nominated by a Democrat.

The shift, one of the most significant but unheralded accomplishments of the Obama era, is likely to have ramifications for how the courts decide the legality of some of the president’s most controversial actions on health care, immigration and clean air. Since today’s Congress has been a graveyard for legislative accomplishment, these judicial confirmations are likely to be among its most enduring acts.

“With all the gridlock, it is forgotten that one of the most profound changes this Congress made was filling the bench,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, who led the push with the White House last summer to force the confirmation of three nominees to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit after Republicans blocked them. “This will affect America for a generation, long after the internecine battles on legislative issues are forgotten.”

With so many of the administration’s policies facing legal challenges, the increased likelihood that those cases could end up before more ideologically sympathetic judges is a reassuring development to the White House.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is a pretty devastating loss. It underscores our need to capture the Senate, keep the Senate, and capture the White House in 2016. Not only do we need to capture those institutions, but we need to use them, with all the powers that the Democrat Senate majority gave itself, to push the courts as far away from ideological Leftism as possible.