Dec 4 2017
11:50 pm

And let’s remember why the makeup of the federal judiciary is so important. Federal judges are appointed for life and hear a myriad of cases dealing with federal statutes and the Constitution. So if one turns out to be racist, or sexist, or incompetent there’s almost no way to get rid of him. A federal judge can only be removed from office if he is first impeached by the House of Representatives and then convicted by the Senate.

Trump's quiet reshaping of the judiciary could be his most lasting legacy

Knoxoasis's picture

Increasingly, the main thing

Increasingly, the main thing that I'm passionate and concerned about in politics and governance is the maintenance of structural norms that protect us all. Some may remember my reticence regarding the recent "no fly no buy" gun control enthusiasm. It wasn't about guns, it was about the danger of giving the State the power to suspend constitutional rights by virtue of putting people's names on a list. If the Obama administration could use a list to suspend the Second Amendment rights of citizens who had been convicted of no crime, why could the Trump administration not suspend First or Fourth or Fifth Amendment rights by the same process?

Ditto with the increasingly aggressive use of Executive Orders to circumvent Congress. If Obama could effectively suspend federal immigration law as with DACA, obfuscating the power grab by characterizing it as "prosecutorial discretion", why could Trump not get his tax cut simply by directing the IRS not to collect corporate taxes at a rate higher than 20% and characterize it the same way?

So it is here. The filibuster was an important limit on majoritarian impulses that required judicial nominees to be moderated in order to receive buy in from both parties (except in the rare instances where one party has a supermajority in the Senate). It protected everyone from the inevitably cyclical nature of politics.

Harry Reid undoubtedly saw a political advantage in tearing that down. But it was incredibly short sighted and this is the result of throwing out such limitations. And the Republican committed the same error in extending the Reid Rule to the Supreme Court. As a result our future is one of winner take all, with few protections available to the side which is currently on the outs.

It is something which should concern us all.

jbr's picture

If this proposal to enlarge

If this proposal to enlarge the judiciary does go into effect, it would mean that Trump isn’t merely satisfied with packing the federal judiciary with young, ultraconservative jurists who will craft the laws affecting our daily lives for decades to come. It would also mean that roughly half of the members of the judicial branch would be appointed by President Trump while the other half were appointed by nine past presidents.

Trump's quiet reshaping of the judiciary could be his most lasting legacy

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