Trump’s judges will call the shots for years to come. The judicial system is broken
For many Americans, Donald Trump will be remembered as the first US president to be twice impeached, to have supported, or even incited, an insurrection against democracy, and for allowing thousands to die due to his abject failure to lead the nation in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. But for many other Americans, his true legacy will be his enduring impact on the third branch – the federal judiciary.
The expansion of executive power, and the diminishment of legislative power due to partisan gridlock, is a well-known story. Governing by executive order has become the new normal. But it is the stealthy and steady rise of the power of the judicial branch that has caught many Americans off-guard.
Federal judges have life tenure. Once they are appointed they remain in office until they retire or die. The president appoints every federal judge and these appointments have very long-term consequences. A look at Trump’s record of appointments reveals a relentless commitment to cementing his peculiar and idiosyncratic ideology. In short, he and his sidekick, former majority leader Mitch McConnell, did all they could to entrench an actively conservative judiciary.