As Americans, we like to think that our judicial system is fair and impartial. At the same time, we know all too well that it is not. Just look at the battle throughout 2016 regarding Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
But the politics of the judicial system are not limited to the Supreme Court.
Federal district courts are often among the most political in the land. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers much of the West Coast, is among the most liberal courts in the nation. Breitbart News reported that the Ninth Circuit has increasingly been more moderate, a move that is concerning many Democrats.
There are 29 judges who sit on the Ninth Circuit Court, and there are currently four vacancies. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., called the vacancies a “judicial emergency.” She and many other liberal Democrats are afraid that President-elect Trump will nominate conservative judges who will move the court in a more conservative direction.
University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias said of the court “has moved to be more moderate than it used to be, so I think that with those four appointments it could make some difference and move the court further in that direction.”
The Ninth Court has been pivotal on some of the key social issues in recent years including the legalization of same-se marriage. Unless President Obama has the opportunity to make recess appointments, Trump will be the one to fill the vacancies. Such a move is unlikely, however, since the Senate has been sure to gavel in and out of session regularly to avoid the recess appointment of Merrick Garland.