Trump overhauls crucial U.S. appeals courts at record pace: ‘It’s a generational change’

The Senate confirmed Michael Park to be a judge on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday, making him the 39th circuit court judge to be confirmed under President Trump in a process on a record pace that is steadily reshaping the bench. Judge Park joins Joseph Bianco, confirmed earlier this week, on that bench, bringing the number of Republican-appointed active judges on the chief 2nd Circuit panel to six. With two more vacancies by this summer as judges take senior status, Mr. Trump will soon have a chance to flip control of the circuit, which currently has seven Democratic appointees. Mr. Trump flipped the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year, taking it from a 7-4 Democratic edge in judicial appointees in 2017 to a 7-6 Republican edge among active judges. The circuit courts are below the Supreme Court but, because so few cases end up before the justices, the circuits are where many consequential cases are decided. That makes Republicans’ focus on circuit judge confirmations huge, both sides say. “It’s a generational change. This president is reshaping the courts for a generation, and thank goodness that he is because we need pro-Constitution, rule-of-law judges. It’s an extraordinary opportunity,” said Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican who joined the Judiciary Committee this year. Eleven circuits cover specific regions of the country. The 2nd Circuit, for example, has jurisdiction over Connecticut, New York and Vermont. The 9th Circuit handles cases in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. One circuit has specific jurisdiction over the District of Columbia and handles many cases directly involving the federal government. Another, the Federal Circuit, hears cases on specific topics. Before Mr. Trump took office, Democrats had a 90-71 advantage in appointments of active judges among all the circuits. Republican-appointed judges now lead by a 90-83 margin.

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