With only six months to go until the presidential election, Donald Trump has been trumpeting his accomplishments to his supporters, the so-called Republican "base".
One of his proudest boasts is that he has appointed 252 federal judges, many of them from the conservative Federalist Society.
Most of the money raised by the RINO losers of the so-called “Lincoln Project”, goes into their own pockets. With what I’ve done on Judges, Taxes, Regulations, Healthcare, the Military, Vets (Choice!) & protecting our great 2A, they should love Trump. Problem is, I BEAT THEM ALL!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 5, 2020
Chuck Schumer, the Democrats’ leader in the Senate, tweeted on Tuesday, 12 May: "Sitting federal judges should not be members of political organizations like the Federalist Society. Period.”
On its website the Federalist Society says: "We are committed to the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our constitution."
Critics say they are a conservative lobby group and Schumer said in his tweet: "The politicisation of the courts is a serious threat to our democracy."
But the United States’ judiciary has always been politicised, right the way back to 1789 when President George Washington appointed the first six US Supreme Court judges.
Shira Scheindlin, a former federal judge in New York for 22 years and a board member of the American Constitution Society, wrote an article in The Guardian last month in which she highlighted the ethnicity and gender of Trump’s picks.
She wrote: “Eighty-five percent are white and 76 percent are male. This is a significant step backward. Obama’s judicial appointments were 64 percent white and 58 percent male.”
The politicization of the courts is a serious threat to our democracy.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) May 13, 2020
It undermines the rule of law.
Sitting federal judges should not be members of political organizations like the Federalist Society. Period.https://t.co/ZxEq8HdK4G
Ms Scheindlin pointed three-quarters of federal judges were white and two-thirds were men “but it will be even more male and pale by the end of his term.”
In the US there are two judicial systems which run parallel - state courts and federal courts.
Ninety percent of judges in state courts are elected, in the same way that most governors, attorney generals, district attorneys and sheriffs are answerable to the voters.
But federal judges - from the Supreme Court right the way down to the 12 district court circuits - are appointed by the President but have to be vetted and approved by the Senate too.
“The appointment of federal judges who understand their critical role is to protect Americans from government overreach, especially during the coronavirus crisis, is the Senate’s essential business right now.” — @mrddmia— The Article III Project (A3P) (@Article3Project) May 13, 2020
The Senate has been dominated by the Republicans since 2015, when they won the mid-term elections in Barack Obama’s second term as President.
Obama appointed 329 judges during his eight years in office, partly because the Senate stymied all his choices during his last 24 months in the White House.
But the record for the most federal appointments goes to Jimmy Carter, a Democrat, who gave jobs to 262 judges and Democrat Presidents have tended to choose people with a record of liberal judgements, just as Republicans have picked conservatives.
During President Obama’s tenure, he asked the American Bar Association to evaluate each person he was considering nominating as a judge. The ABA rated 14 of them, “Not Qualified.” Obama did not nominate a single one of the 14. Under Trump, we already have 9 “unqualified” judges.— Glenn Kirschner (@glennkirschner2) May 6, 2020
Trump is reportedly keen to beat Carter’s record in the final months of his first term.
The New York Times reported in March that Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader in the Senate, had been calling judges and urging them to retire to create more vacancies.
Former judge Scheindlin also pointed out Trump’s picks have been much younger than Obama’s (average age of 48.2, compared to 57.2) and claimed they tended to be much less experienced.
So interesting to see all of these people I beat so badly, pundits & consultants that never had a chance, telling me how to run for office. Many are Republicans who should LOVE our 280 new Judges, rebuilt Military, 2A, great V.A. Low Taxes, etc. Just don’t like that I beat them!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2020
She highlighted Allison Rushing, 36, who only graduated from law school 11 years ago and has spent most of her career representing big corporations.
Because of the age of many of Trump’s picks they are likely to be around for 30 or 40 years.
But defenders of the White House point out the President is not abusing the system but simply taking advantage of it.