- - Monday, December 11, 2017


By all reasonable accounts, President Trump has had a good first year in office. While he has not gotten many parts of his legislative agenda through, he has had some amazing victories in other areas.

The economy is growing, the regulatory state is being dismantled but there is one victory that President Trump has that has been “yuge.” This victory will pay dividends for two generations. And perhaps the only part that is more interesting than the victory is who it turns out is the unlikely architect of the victory.

In his first year in office, Barack Obama managed to get three federal judges confirmed by the Senate. As of now, President Trump has gotten sixteen judges confirmed and the year is not up yet.

The judges President Trump is appointing are by and large younger judges. That means these men and women will be on the bench for decades, changing the federal judiciary. President Trump’s appointments will make the judiciary much more conservative and the man behind this is a man a lot of conservatives don’t care for:Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In 2014, something incredible happened. The Republicans, against all odds, took control of the U.S. Senate. That put Mitch McConnell in as the majority leader.

Mr. McConnell immediately put the brakes on one of Mr. Obama’s last, big initiatives. Mr. Obama wanted to put as many liberal lawyers as he could on the federal judiciary.

Mitch McConnell said no.

The McConnell strategy did a couple of things. First, it stopped the packing of the federal judiciary with radical Democrats. Second, it created a huge backlog of vacancies that the President now gets to fill.

On Feb. 13, 2016, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly in Texas. Mr. Obama and the Democrats were excited. They could put one more liberal on the Supreme Court and give the court a 5-4 liberal majority.

Mr. Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace Scalia. Even though it was an election year, the Democrats demanded Mr. McConnell give Mr. Garland a confirmation hearing and a vote. Squishy Republicans also waivered.

Mr. McConnell refused to give Mr. Garland a hearing.

Donald Trump won the 2016 election and today we have Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.

Since Mr. Trump was sworn in, he has seen one Supreme Court justice confirmed, nine Circuit Court (appellate) judges confirmed and six District Court (trial court) judges confirmed. That is 16 in his first year and that year isn’t over yet.

The Republicans have a very simple plan. The nominees are being submitted to the Judiciary Committee. With the help of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the nominees are being reported out of committee promptly and then are being speedily sent to the Senate floor for a full confirmation vote.

Of course, there is one other person who deserves credit here too. That is former Nevada Sen. and former Democrat Majority Leader Harry Reid. Mr. Reid abolished the filibuster for judicial appointments so the Democrats can do nothing to stop the wave of Trump appointments to the federal courts.

Conservatives love to hate Mitch McConnell. There are good reasons to disagree with him on issues and some not-so-good reasons. President Trump’s appointments to the federal judiciary are an incredible win that will do much to advance the cause of conservatism for decades to come.

It is an amazing victory, and Mr. Trump could not have done it without Mitch McConnell.

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