President Donald Trump flipped the first federal appeals court to a Republican majority on Tuesday, when the Senate confirmed Judge Paul Matey to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. America is geographically divided into 13 federal appeals courts. For example, the Third Circuit includes Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Puerto Rico. The Senate confirmed Matey by a vote of 54-46. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) was the sole Democrat to join all Republicans in supporting Matey’s nomination. Of the nation’s 179 federal appellate judgeships, the Philadelphia-based Third Circuit has 14 seats. President Trump has now appointed judges to three of those seats, with one more vacancy to fill. Consequently, seven of the current 13 judges were appointed by Republicans. Conservatives are quick to point out that a Republican majority does not mean a conservative majority, but see it as a step in the right direction. Several appeals courts already had a Republican majority at the outset of the Trump presidency. But January 2021, it is very possible that all federal appeals courts except three – the Fourth, Ninth, and D.C. Circuits – could have Republican majorities. Given that President Trump has consistently nominated originalists and textualists to the bench, the president’s supporters are hopeful that several of circuit courts will have reliable constitutionalist majorities by Election Day 2020, giving President Trump a major achievement to tout to voters.
This is great news!! Even though Trump’s legislative agenda is currently dead, thanks to the Dems’ control of the House, he is still able to have these outstanding judicial nominees approved by the Senate.