AFJ to Fight ‘Ultraconservative Takeover’ of Federal Courts

ct-scalia-political-fight-20160214-001PROGRESSIVE GROUPS ASSESS TRUMP IMPACT: On the day after Republican Donald Trump captured the White House and Republicans retained the Senate, progressive groups assessed how the federal courts may be affected.

“At this critical moment in history for our federal courts, it is essential that we fight with all the resources at our disposal against a takeover of our courts by the anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-worker, anti-minority forces of the far right,” said Nan Aron, president of our sister group Alliance for Justice, according to The Washington Examiner. “Rarely has there been a time when the fairness and impartiality of our courts have been more at stake. We and our allies at Alliance for Justice will oppose, with every ounce of our strength, an ultraconservative takeover of our nation’s courts.”

The New York Times quoted Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, as saying, “Given that many of the conservatives on his list are more in the traditional conservative mold than Trump himself, they might not simply write him a blank check when it comes to actions and policies that threaten constitutional structure.” She added, “As is the case during every administration of either party, the court will inevitably be asked to step in and serve the judicial branch’s role as a check on the political branches.”

According to The Atlantic, when it comes to Supreme Court nominees, “With advance warning about Trump’s choices, left-leaning interest groups could build extensive research on the nominees’ judicial records and personal histories. They might not be able to block a potential justice outright, but they could make the process a headache for the Trump administration and Republican senators alike.”

GRADUAL, RATHER THAN QUICK, CHANGE AHEAD?: Several analysts suggested shifts in the direction of the Supreme Court may not come quickly. Lyle Denniston wrote at his blog that “the transition to a truly different Court may not come until after the congressional elections in 2018, or even later, although that depends on the health of the more senior Justices now serving.” David Savage said in The Los Angeles Times, “Now, the court’s ideological balance should remain largely as it has been for the past decade, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy holding the deciding vote in the court’s biggest cases.” Remarked Tony Mauro at National Law Journal (registration required), “The court prides itself on being the one branch of government that does not respond to every change blowing in the wind.” In other commentary, a Los Angeles Times essay by law professor Erwin Chemerinsky was headlined, “So long Roe vs. Wade? President Trump’s most lasting legacy could be radical change at the Supreme Court.” Linda Greenhouse wrote in The New York Times, “The Choice Confronting the Supreme Court’s Chief Justice.”

JUDICIAL NOMINATIONS: Lest dozens of federal judicial vacancies, and pending nominations to the courts, be forgotten, National Law Journal reported (registration required), “Trump Win Is Bad News for Obama Court Picks.” Other coverage included NPR, “Republicans’ Senate Tactics Leave Trump Wide Sway Over Nation’s Courts,” and Washington Examiner, “McConnell hints against nuke option to kill Dem filibusters.”