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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/28/17

Former Federal Judge: Trump Is Packing the Courts with Unqualified Conservative Extremists

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With the confirmation of a 12th circuit court judge earlier this month, Trump set a record for the most appellate judges confirmed in a president's first year in office. Early in his first year, Trump appointed conservative Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. But legal experts say Trump's appointments to the lower courts will have the most impact on American life because they decide nearly all cases, ranging from voting rights and contraception to gay rights and immigration.

Meanwhile, Trump's nominee to a lifetime appointment on the U.S. District Court in Washington withdrew from consideration, after widely circulated video showed he was unable to answer basic questions about the law and had never tried a case in court. We get response from Judge Shira Scheindlin, former United States district judge for the Southern District of New York, where she served for 22 years.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZALEZ: We begin today's show looking at how President Trump is shaping the federal judiciary with the confirmation of a 12th circuit court judge earlier this month. Trump set a record for the most appellate judges confirmed in a president's first year in office. President Trump began his term having to fill 150 vacancies in the federal courts, or about 10 percent of the federal judiciary, largely due to a backlog caused by Republican obstruction of confirmations during the Obama administration. Early in his first year in office, Trump appointed conservative Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. But legal experts say Trump's appointments to the lower courts will have the most impact on American life because those courts decide nearly all cases, ranging from voting rights and contraception to gay rights and immigration.

Many of Trump's appointees have drawn scrutiny, including Leonard Grasz, who was the Senate -- who the Senate confirmed earlier this month to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals despite a "not qualified" rating from the American Bar Association. Grasz is one of at least four Trump nominees the ABA deemed "not qualified." Meanwhile, Trump's nominee to a lifetime appointment on the U.S. District Court in Washington withdrew from consideration, after widely circulated video showed he was unable to answer basic questions about the law and had never tried a case in court. This is Louisiana Republican John Kennedy questioning Matthew Petersen at a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing earlier this month.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY: Have you ever tried a jury trial?

MATTHEW PETERSEN: I have not.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY: Civil?

MATTHEW PETERSEN: No.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY: Criminal?

MATTHEW PETERSEN: No.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY: Bench?

MATTHEW PETERSEN: No.

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