With the new Senate majority, Richard Primus believes the GOP are poised to reshape the federal judiciary for a generation affecting everything from arbitration, to contraception, to climate change. With an opportunity to further shift the courts to the right, the GOP can fulfill hopes of overturning Roe v Wade and banning race-based affirmative action. Because Republicans refused to confirm judge nominees under Obama, many seats were vacant leaving a big opportunity to reshape the judiciary.
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After expanding their majority in the Senate despite losing the House on Tuesday, Republicans are ready to reshape the federal judiciary for a generation ‘” with implications for everything from arbitration to contraception to the climate.
Moving the judiciary farther to the right has long been among the Republican Party’s major goals, and Republicans have had consider success in that endeavor. The Supreme Court has had a Republican-appointed majority at all times since 1970, so the general trend of legal doctrine has been decidedly rightward for half a century. But the project of staffing a Republican judiciary has picked up speed under President Donald Trump. So far, the Trump administration has appointed 84 federal judges-almost twice as many as President Barack Obama had appointed at the comparable stage of his administration.
Now, we can expect the appointment of conservative judges to accelerate even more. With the House in Democratic hands, stocking the judiciary is something consequential that the Republican-controlled Senate can get done over the next two years. Still, just how long and how much those appointments will matter won’t be known until the 2020 electoral cycle runs its course.
Even with no further judicial appointments, the courts are poised to move the law significantly to the right. As a consequence of the Republican Senate’s stonewall of Merrick Garland and the replacement of Justice Anthony Kennedy with Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court now has a majority that might fulfill many conservatives’ long-held hopes of overruling Roe v. Wade and banning all race-based affirmative action.