July 30, 2021

Trump’s focus on judicial appointees pays off, Biden ‘pen and phone’ policies smacked down

Former President Donald Trump’s push to fill a record number of vacancies on the federal bench during his term in office continues to pay dividends long after his departure, as several of the judges he appointed have been instrumental in halting the executive overreach attempted by President Joe Biden in recent months, as Fox News reports.

According to many observers, the jurists appointed by Trump have been employing an approach that is more scrutinizing when it comes to the power of the executive branch than those appointed under other administrations, and that has resulted in a series of high-profile decisions blocking some of Biden’s signature policy priorities in areas such as COVID relief, immigration, and more.

Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute’s Robert A. Levy for Constitutional Studies explained to Fox News, “What you’re seeing is that ‘pen and phone’ initiatives are running into legal trouble right off the bat. Trump appointed a lot of judges…and these folks aren’t as deferential to executive power as past Republican-appointed judges might have been.”

A key example of this trend came when Trump-appointed Sixth Circuit Appeals Court Judge Amul Thapar put a stop to the use of race and gender criteria in prioritizing applications from restaurant owners seeking COVID-19 financial assistance from the federal government.

Federal District Judge Terry Doughty of the Western District of Louisiana recently granted an injunction against the Biden administration’s order pausing new oil and gas leasing, finding that the executive simply lacks the authority to negate existing law that requires leases of that sort to be sold.

In May, D.C. District Judge Dabney Friedrich – another Trump judicial appointee – decided last month that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did not have the authority necessary to enact an eviction moratorium in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, finding that the manner in which the Department of Health and Human Services was attempting to exercise authority, if allowed, would mean that there was essentially “no limit to the reach” of the agency’s authority.

As Carrie Severino of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network explained, “President Trump’s judges have shown an unwavering commitment to the rule of law and the Constitution so it’s not surprising to see opinions reining in executive overreach from the Biden administration.”

According to data compiled by Pew Research, in just four years, Trump appointed over 200 judges to the federal courts, a number that included almost as many appeals court judges as former President Barack Obama elevated to similar seats in eight years.

In the midst of a final push made late last year to cement Trump’s legacy on judicial appointments, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) correctly predicted that the effort would “have a significant consequence in terms of judicial decisions for years to come,” and added, “One of the things that Republicans like is conservative, constitutional judges. And the Trump administration has delivered mightily in that regard.”

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