Whatever the remainder of his presidency brings, President Trump should be remembered fondly by conservatives for one salient reason: he is remaking the judiciary with one heck of a conservative bent,
As The Texas Tribune points out, “26 of the president’s picks have already been confirmed to the nation’s 13 powerful appeals courts, which sit just one step from the U.S. Supreme Court. In his first congressional term, President Barack Obama appointed 15.” Bloomberg wrote, “Donald Trump now has 60 confirmed federal judges.”
Take the Fifth Circuit, widely considered the most conservative of the circuit courts. Five new judges have been appointed; three of them from Texas. If Trump gets one more conservative judge on the court, and there is currently one vacancy left, it is likely the court would strike down a law restricting interstate handgun sales.
Josh Blackman, law professor at South Texas College of Law Houston, opined, “Despite all the chaos in Trump world … the president’s judicial nominees team is a finely operating machine,” adding any Republican “should be happy about [Trump’s] judicial nominees.”
The Tribune points out that five of the Fifth Circuit Court’s 16 active judges have been appointed by Trump, then notes its most outspoken and fiery conservative, Judge James Ho. The Tribune writes:
If the 5th Circuit is a focal point of the federal bench, then its focal point might be Ho, who has the support from U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and worked under then-Attorney General Abbott. Ho had never served as a judge before his investiture this year. But he has already begun to draw national attention for his sharp rhetoric. In his very first writing for the court, Ho dissented from 12 of his new colleagues, writing a scathing 11 pages admonishing them for letting stand a campaign finance decision he said seriously eroded free speech protections.
Ho wrote, “If there is too much money in politics, it’s because there’s too much government.”
The Tribune cites another example of Ho’s determination:
Ho sharply admonished a federal district judge who had directed the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops to turn over scores of emails for an upcoming trial over the handling of fetal remains. The judge, long-serving David Ezra, had compelled the religious group to submit those documents in just 24 hours; the trial was imminent. The 5th Circuit quashed the subpoena, and Ho, going further than his colleagues, suggested that the quick deadline had been an attempt to intimidate people of faith from expressing “their profound objection to the moral tragedy of abortion.” The circumstances, Ho wrote, “leave this Court to wonder if this discovery is sought to retaliate against people of faith for not only believing in the sanctity of life — but also for wanting to do something about it.”
Another prominent conservative judge, Don Willett, has also made his mark, slamming the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as unconstitutionally structured.
University of Texas Law professor Hugh Brady said simply, “If you voted for Donald Trump because you wanted to see the federal judiciary become even more conservative than it already is, you are getting exactly what you paid for.”