The Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday afternoon confirmed Lawrence VanDyke to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, marking President Trump’s 50th successful appellate court appointment in just three years in office, and his second to the historically liberal 9th Circuit in as many days.
By contrast, President Barack Obama nominated a total of 55 circuit judges who were confirmed over eight years — and Obama’s nominees were, on average, approximately ten years older. The White House has dramatically transformed the 9th Circuit, a powerful court with jurisdiction over nine states and Guam that has long been a thorn in the president’s side.
Of the 30 active seats on the 9th Circuit, 10 have now been appointed by Trump, and 14 by Republican presidents. Only nine of the court’s 19 semi-retired “senior status” judges were appointed by Democrats, with 10 by Republicans. That’s a major change from early last year, when only six of the active judges on the 9th Circuit were chosen by Republicans.
“FIFTY CIRCUIT COURT JUDGES!” tweeted Carrie Severino, the conservative Judicial Crisis Network’s chief counsel and policy director. “Despite unrelenting Democratic obstruction and smear campaigns,” she wrote, Trump and his Senate allies “have answered the call of the American people.”
VanDyke’s confirmation, by a 51-44 vote, came just 24 hours after Patrick Bumatay, an openly gay Filipino man, was also seated on the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit. Both nominees were fiercely opposed by Democrats, including the senators from their home states — Nevada Sens. Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto for VanDyke, and California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris for Bumatay.