(National Sentinel) Ninth Circus: With the death this week of 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt, experts believe President Donald J. Trump has a rare opportunity to begin remaking the reliably Left-leaning court.
As reported by the Washington Examiner, legal experts and Senate watchers agree that Trump has a tall order ahead of him, given the Democrats’ unprecedented delaying not only the president’s nominees for diplomatic and other posts, but especially court picks.
The 9th Circuit has 22 active judges, but it is authorized to have 20 judgeships; of those, 16 were nominated by Democratic presidents and six by Republicans.
However, with Reinhardt’s passing, Trump now has a rare opportunity to fill seven vacancies to the San Francisco-based appeals court and dramatically shift the constitutional ideology on one of the courts most-overturned by the Supreme Court.
“It’s an incredible opportunity,” University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told the WE. “There are 29 active judgeships on that court. [Trump] can fill 1/4 of them. That to me could — depending on who they are, how quickly they go, whether they are rejected — change the complexion of the court, and it could change substantially.”
Current Senate rules will make it difficult for Trump. Many of the states covered by the 9th Circuit have two Democratic senators, and they can use the “blue slip” rule to delay or even derail Trump’s more conservative nominees.
That said, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has held two votes on Trump nominees after Democratic senators refused to return their blue slips, signalling their approval.
Reinhardt, dubbed the court’s “liberal lion,” died suddenly of a heart attack last week while at the dermatologist’s office.
Appointed to the court in 1979 by President Jimmy Carter, he took the bench at a time when Congress authorized the court to have an additional 10 seats. That, say many, is what helped contribute to its Leftward lean because those additional seats were also filled by Carter.
Federal judgeships, like Supreme Court justices, serve for life. They can be impeached like presidents, vice presidents “and all civil officers of the United States,” but that process has never been undertaken in modern history.
One Yale University paper in 2006 argued that judges could be removed by other means, but that theory has also never been tried.
Several rulings from the 9th Circuit have gone against the president and his administration, particularly regarding his travel bans, despite clear statutory language giving presidents the authority to issue them for any reason.
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