Trump's CONSERVATIVE JUDGES BEGIN TAKEOVER of federal appeals courts
Trump's conservative judges begin takeover of federal appeals courts
Richard Wolf, USA TODAYPublished 3:01 p.m. ET March 12, 2019 | Updated 4:07 p.m. ET March 12, 2019
Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. (Photo: Alex Brandon, AP)
WASHINGTON – One of President Donald Trump's biggest achievements since entering the White House – making the federal courts more conservative – crossed a major threshold Tuesday.
For the first time, he turned a federal appeals court previously dominated by Democratic presidents' nominees into one with a majority of Republican presidents' choices.
Senate confirmation of Paul Matey to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, with jurisdiction over Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, gave Trump and his GOP predecessors in the White House a 7-6 majority there. The Senate vote was 54-45, largely along party lines.
Matey, 48, a former top counsel to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, became Trump's 35th appeals court nominee to reach the bench with seven more pending, continuing a record pace. The Senate also has confirmed 53 of Trump's picks for federal district courts, with another 54 nominees pending.
The president's goal of remaking the federal judiciary began in January 2017 with the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch's confirmation and that of Brett Kavanaugh last October have made the nation's highest court more conservative.
The Senate also was poised to move further ahead Tuesday with thecontroversial nomination of Neomi Rao to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the nation's second-most powerful tribunal. A final vote could occur later this week.