President Trump (with the help of Senate Republicans) has spent the past three years reshaping the federal judiciary, and now we are starting to see the results. The longtime notoriously liberal-leaning 9th Circuit Court of Appeals---deemed the "9th Circus" by conservatives for years---is now actually leaning the other way. In a stunning reversal that began shortly after he took office, Trump has now appointed 10 new judges to the 9th Circuit, three more than President Obama appointed to the same court in eight years.
The first sign that the 9th Circuit may have flipped came earlier this week, when an 11-judge panel of the 9th Circuit voted 7-4 to uphold the Trump Administration's rules barring abortion referrals by taxpayer-funded family planning clinics. "The (9th Circuit) had the reputation of being the most liberal court, and now it very well could turn into the most conservative court," says Dr. Sanford Levinson, constitutional law professor at UT-Austin.
Overall, President Trump has now appointed 51 judges to federal appeals courts, along with two Supreme Court justices and more than 150 district court judges. Dr. Levinson says this follows the campaign pledge Trump made back in 2016 to appoint conservative, constitutionalist judges. "Whatever else one thinks about Donald Trump, he certainly kept that promise," says Levinson. "He has appointed only hardcore conservatives to the federal judiciary."
Dr. Levinson predicts that this week's abortion decision is only the start of a more conservative-friendly federal judiciary, thanks to President Trump's appointments. "If one looks at 100 percent of judicial decisions, 80 percent are going to be solidly right-wing, especially with regard to the issues the Trump Administration cares most about," he says. "Things like doing in abortion, doing in affirmative action, and doing in federal regulation in a variety of areas."