President Trump often touts his administration's achievements on the economy, foreign affairs, energy independence, and border security. But the area where he continues to make perhaps the largest impact is in the federal judiciary. The Senate has now confirmed 127 Trump nominees to federal courts since he took office, the most recent being Daniel Bress to the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The President has narrowed the gap between Democrat and Republican appointees on the liberal-leaning Ninth Circuit, flipped the Third Circuit from a Democrat-appointed majority to a Republican-appointed majority, and strengthened Republican-appointed majorities on the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Circuits.
While Trump's pace of judicial confirmations is about equal to previous presidents, he is far ahead of them in appointments to the appeals courts. Josh Blackman, professor at South Texas College of Law Houston, says that is a big deal. "The Trump nominees provide an antidote to the Obama nominees that were put on the courts in the past," he tells KTRH. "For example, the Fifth Circuit has always been a more conservative circuit, but since President Trump's appointments the court has, I think, become perhaps a little more conservative."
The new makeup of the courts is already paying some dividends for the president, with the Ninth Circuit recently issuing a rare ruling in his favor. Of course, Trump has also had a major impact on the U.S. Supreme Court, with Neil Gorsuch replacing the late Antonin Scalia and Brett Kavanaugh replacing the retired Anthony Kennedy.
With the help of the Republican-controlled Senate overseeing judicial nominations, Trump will likely continue to remake the federal judiciary. "President Trump's longest lasting legacy---his biggest contribution to the republic---will be the courts," says Blackman. "Not just the Supreme Court, but also the lower courts, where he has been very successful at putting on judges."