Brilliant California Lawyer Applauds Trump’s Court Picks

Jul. 17, 2019
Bob Adelmann

Ben Feuer, chairman of the California Appellate Law Group, has been deemed one of the top appellate litigators in California. The National Law Journal calls him an "Elite Boutique Trailblazer" while the Los Angeles Daily Journal named him one of the "Top 40 Lawyers Under 40." The San Francisco Bar awarded him its "Outstanding Barrister" prize, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals appointed him an "appellate lawyer representative," one of just a handful of attorneys selected from the Ninth's 11-state jurisdiction for that position.

And so, when Feuer wrote in February that "Thanks to Trump, the liberal 9 th Circuit will be liberal no more" he knows whereof he speaks.

He had nothing but praise for Trump's appointees who are reshaping the judicial landscape not only at the Ninth Circuit but across the land:

They're all experienced practitioners with stellar credentials. Accordingly, once fully staffed, the court's conservative wing will be newly empowered with sharp, young minds capable of steering the law in a more conservative direction over time.

And those appointees are beginning to impact that landscape.

When Donald Trump took office in January 2017, there were more than one hundred judicial court openings waiting for him to fill. With Senate confirmation of Daniel Bress to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals last week, thanks to retirements since then the president has filled 127 vacancies.

Although most attention has been paid to the confirmation battles over Supreme Court nominees Neal Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh it's the appeals courts which do the heavy lifting, or as Caleb Parker of Fox News put it, these are the "big leagues" of the judiciary system. That's because, of the 7,000 cases sent to the Supreme Court for judicial review every year, it only accepts around one percent of them. This leaves the decisions made at the appeals level in place.

The numbers tell part of the story. Trump's appointees already account for some 14 percent of the federal judiciary and more than 22 percent of the judges on the nation's courts of appeal. If Trump is reelected there is every likelihood that he will be able to nominate close to 40 percent of the country's federal judges. As The Nation magazine recently lamented, "Trump's court [nominees] will remain his legacy."

In March Trump "flipped" the Third Circuit Court of Appeals which covers New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, achieving a majority of judges appointed by Republican presidents instead of Democrats. He has strengthened Republican-president-nominated majorities in the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Courts of Appeal. With Senate confirmation of Bress last week, he has narrowed the Democrat-president-nominated majority in the Ninth to 16, with 12 Republican-president-nominated ones.


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The notoriously liberal Ninth Circuit was the court of choice by those seeking to implement a liberal agenda they were unable to accomplish legislatively. Rush Limbaugh once called it the "9th Circus" while former NRATV host Dan Bongino referred to it as the "nutty Ninth." Trump called it "a complete and utter disaster."

But those days are over. Thanks to Trump, with help from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (and Democrats who eliminated the 60-vote threshold for overcoming a filibuster on nearly all judicial nominations), judges like Bress are balancing courts across the land, favoring "original intent" over "living" interpretations of the Constitution.

Said McConnell of Bress: "[He] comes with strong credentials: the academic pedigree [a BA degree from Harvard College and JD degree from the University of Virginia School of Law], the legal experience [he clerked for Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia] and, most importantly, a demonstrated commitment to the rule of law."

The change in the Ninth Circuit is remarkable, yet predictable. Last week the court ruled in favor of the Trump administration in a case concerning the withholding of federal funds from "sanctuary cities." A three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that the Justice Department could deny grants to cities and states that have "sanctuary" policies in place which prohibit local law-enforcement cooperation with ICE officials. Trump had issued an executive order immediately following his inauguration cutting off federal funds to sanctuary cities but its implementation had been stalled until last Friday's decision by the Ninth Circuit.

More telling was the Ninth's decision a day earlier supporting the Trump administration's change in Title X family planning rules that prevent grant recipients (i.e., Planned Parenthood) from using federal funds to promote abortion. The case came to the Ninth by appeal from 20 states and Planned Parenthood attempting to block its implementation.

While the ruling could cost Planned Parenthood an estimated $60 million in "referral fees," it's a very small percentage of the half-billion it receives in federal funding. But it's a welcome start to ending the abortion holocaust. What's notable about the ruling is that all seven of the Ninth Circuit judges who voted in favor of those rules were appointed by Republican presidents, including two chosen by President Trump, while the four in the minority who opposed them were named by Democrat presidents.

Feuer concluded that "within a few years Trump will have rendered this liberal icon a thing of the past." That it's happening even sooner is a cause for rejoicing.

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Sources:

The Daily Signal: Boosted by Trump Judges, 9th Circuit Gives Pro-Lifers a Win

The Washington Post: Thanks to Trump, the liberal 9th Circuit is no longer liberal

Background on Ben Feuer

The Washington Post: Senate confirms Trump judicial nominee to California-based 9th Circuit

The Washington Times: 9th Circuit Court sides with Trump administration on banning Title X funds for abortion

National ReviewNinth Circuit Hands Trump Administration Win in Sanctuary-City Case

Fox News: Trump has nominated over 125 judges, solidifying his judicial legacy

The Nation: Donald Trump and the Plot to Take Over the Courts

Background on Judge Daniel Bress

The Atlantic: How Democrats Paved the Way for the Confirmation of Trump's Cabinet

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