For the first time in more than three decades, Republican-appointed judges will soon occupy nearly half the seats on the left-leaning 9th Circuit Court of Appeals — dealing a setback to progressive legal advocates who have long seen the court as a safe bet for favorable rulings.
The radical transformation of the San Francisco-based court is largely the result of President Trump’s aggressive push to nominate conservative judges and bypass traditional consultations with Senate Democrats — a practice that has led to repeated howls of protest from California’s two Democratic senators, Kamala Harris and Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein. The 9th Circuit has a sprawling purview over cases arising in nine western states, including California, Hawaii, and Oregon.
Once Trump’s latest picks to the 9th Circuit, including Ken Lee and Dan Collins, are confirmed as expected and remaining vacancies are filled, 13 of the 29 active seats on the key appellate court will be filled with judges picked by Republican presidents. At this time last year, 16 judges on the 9th Circuit were appointed by Democrats, with only six chosen by Republicans.
“As the 9th Circuit shifts to become more conservative and better parallels the Supreme Court’s ideological baseline, I could only imagine fewer liberal 9th Circuit decisions and fewer overturned 9th Circuit decisions generally,” legal scholar and judicial data guru Adam Feldman, who blogs at Empirical SCOTUS, told Fox News.
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