Senate confirms Trump’s 200th judge, officially fills all appeals court vacancies

Fox News reports “No vacancy left behind.”

That quote, repeated over and over by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the past year — to cheers from Republicans and the outrage of Democrats — has been the creed behind the Senate’s single-minded push to confirm as many Trump-nominated federal judges as possible. And the 52-48 confirmation of Cory Wilson to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on Wednesday means that McConnell, in one respect, has quite literally accomplished that goal.

Wilson fills the final remaining federal circuit court vacancy. None have been left behind.

Wilson also marks the 200th overall lifetime-appointed Article III judge to be confirmed by the Senate during Trump’s presidency. Article III courts include federal district courts, circuit courts of appeals, the Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of International Trade. That pace is faster than every other president in history except for Jimmy Carter. President Trump’s appointees now make up more than one-quarter of the federal judiciary — a legacy that will long outlast him and McConnell, the author of a memoir titled “The Long Game.”

“The single most consequential thing we can do is these lifetime appointments of men and women to the court who believe that the job of a judge is to follow the law,” McConnell told the annual Values Voter conference in 2018.

And on Wednesday, McConnell said on the floor of the Senate that, “[o]nce we confirm Judge Wilson today, the Senate will have confirmed 200, 200 of President Trump’s nominees to lifetime appointments on the federal bench. And following number 200, when we depart this chamber today, there will not be a single circuit court vacancy in the country anywhere in the nation for the first time in at least 40 years.”

The majority leader also took a shot at Democrats, who have opposed Trump’s judicial nominees at an unprecedented rate.

“Our work with the administration to renew our federal courts is not a partisan or political victory,” McConnell said. “It’s a victory for the rule of law and for the constitution itself. If judges applying the law and the constitution as they’re written strikes any of our colleagues as a threat to their political agenda, then the problem, I would argue, is with their agenda.”

And the judges McConnell is confirming will likely remain at their posts for decades. Wilson is 49 years old. Justin Walker, who the Senate last week confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, is just 38.

Wilson, like many of the Trump nominees to the influential federal courts of appeals, which are just one step below the Supreme Court, has been zealously opposed by Democrats.

“Judicial nominee Cory Wilson called the Affordable Care Act ‘illegitimate’ & ‘perverse,'” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., tweeted Tuesday. “He called the NAACP’s concerns about Voter ID laws ‘poppycock.’ He called groups like the ACLU ‘rent-a-mobs.’ I call him unqualified & will be voting no on his nomination.”

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