President Donald Trump continues to outpace his predecessor when it comes to reshaping the federal judiciary. The U.S. Senate recently confirmed Trump's 150th judicial nominee since he took office. At the same point in his presidency, Barack Obama had 96 federal judges confirmed. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the 150 Trump judicial confirmations a "historic milestone."
Specifically, President Trump has successfully appointed 105 judges to federal district courts, another 43 to federal appeals courts (including notable shakeups in both the Ninth Circuit and Fifth Circuit), and two U.S. Supreme Court justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Gerald Treece, professor at South Texas College of Law Houston, tells KTRH that judicial appointments are perhaps the most important legacy item for any president. "Presidents come and go, administrations come and go, but an Article III federal judge is there for life, usually until either they die or they quit---so it changes policy, it changes everything," says Treece. "A federal judge, unlike a state judge, doesn't stand for election---for good or bad, they are there for at least 30 to 40 years."
Of course, the most important of those 150 appointments are the two who now sit on the nation's highest court. "Just think that if Hillary Clinton had won, neither one of the two appointments to the Supreme Court would be the same," says Treece. "They'd be two totally different people, ideologically."
With a minimum of more than a year left with President Trump in office and Republicans controlling the U.S. Senate, there are likely to be more milestones on judicial appointments. "President Trump has been fortunate to have the U.S. Senate on his side," says Treece. "Remember, the House of Representatives has nothing to do with the appointment of federal judges---it's the President and the Senate."