Monday numbers: The Barrett nomination and the ongoing transformation of the federal courts

By: - September 28, 2020 5:30 am

The last four years have produced little in the way of affirmative policy accomplishments for the Trump administration and its allies on Capitol Hill. Save for undermining numerous core public services and structures; rolling back numerous rules and regulations that protected average Americans from the day-to-day impacts of racism, sexism, homophobia, environmental degradation, and predatory corporate behavior; and further transforming the nation’s tax code so that it more aggressively abets the transfer of wealth from low- and moderate-income Americans to the rich and super rich, there has been no signature policy achievement – no high profile law that will be remembered for decades to come.

If, however, there’s one area in which Trump and his conservative allies have “succeeded” during the last 44 months, it is in effecting a dramatic ideological transformation of the federal judiciary. This aggressive, and in many ways unprecedented effort, could reach its apogee in the coming weeks as the U.S. Senate considers the Supreme Court nomination of federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

As judiciary watchdogs at the Alliance for Justice reported last week (click here to read the summary and here to read the full report), Barrett is a judge with a record of being on extreme end of the ideological spectrum on a raft important issues, including civil rights, sex discrimination, immigrant rights, access to health care, reproductive freedom, workers’ rights and consumer protection. This is from the report summary:

Barrett’s views, as evidenced in the cases highlighted in this report, are so extreme that she is challenged by other Republican appointed judges. Her views in many cases are contrary to the overwhelming weight of authority, and often unanimous authority, of other circuit courts. As Mark Joseph Stern noted, she has a ‘particularly cruel vision of the law.’ Her opinions have inflicted real pain and suffering to workers, women, consumers, individuals in the criminal justice system, and immigrants.”

Sadly, however, as the following numbers reflect, Barrett’s nomination (and the disturbing circumstances surrounding it) are typical of the hyper-politicization of the federal courts that Republicans in Washington have been pursuing for well over a decade.

4 – in American history, the fewest number of months prior to a presidential election that a U.S. Supreme Court nominee has ever been confirmed

No more than 1 – number of months contemplated by Trump and Senate Republicans with the Barrett nomination

10 – Months during which Senate Republicans refused to consider President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland because of their contention that it would be inappropriate to consider a Supreme Court nominee during a presidential election year

1 –  Hours after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that Trump nominee to replace her would receive a floor vote in 2020

1 – Weeks after the Nov. 3 election that the Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the Affordable Care Act that could lead to the demise of the law, including the bar against denying coverage to people with preexisting health conditions

135 million – Americans with preexisting health conditions

5 – Days since Trump stated that he expected the presidential election would be decided by the Supreme Court

210 – Trump nominees already confirmed to the federal judiciary: two in Supreme Court, 53 in Circuit Courts, 153 in District Courts, two in U.S. Court of International Trade)

43 – nominees currently pending

69 – current vacancies

85 – Percentage of Trump judicial nominees who are white

76 – Percentage who are men

4 – Percentage who are Black

4 –Percentage who are Latinx

6 – Percentage who are Asian- /Pacific-American

58 – Percentage of President Obama’s judicial nominees who were men

64 – Percentage who were white

19 – Percentage who were Black

11 – Percentage who were Latinx

7 – Percentage who were Asian- /Pacific-American

Hundreds of millions – number of Americans who are likely to lose health care, reproductive freedom, civil rights, voting rights, and many other protections that are the bedrock of our democracy if Barrett is confirmed


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Rob Schofield
Rob Schofield

Editor Rob Schofield oversees day-to-day newsroom operations, authors regular commentaries, and hosts a weekly radio show/podcast.