Trump to shift courts to the right with slate of appeals nominees

SEPT. 30 2015 FILE

President Trump is expected to announce his selection of at least five conservative nominees to federal appeals courts as early as Monday, building on his successful nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

The other three names nominated to federal courts Monday were University of Notre Dame law professor Amy Coney Barrett, Kentucky lawyer John Bush and former Alabama Solicitor General Kevin Newsom.

Hours later, President Donald Trump nominated Larsen to a federal appeals court. A White House official confirmed to The New York Times the 10 nominees will be the first in what will be monthly waves of judicial appointments.

Trump will need a minimum of 51 votes to confirm his judicial nominees in the Senate - a feat made easier by Senate Democrats' decision to trigger the so-called "nuclear option" in 2013 to eliminate the filibuster for all nominations to the lower federal courts.

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In addition, to the appellate nominees noted above, Trump is poised to nominate Damien Schiff of the Pacific Legal Foundation to the U.S. Court of Claims. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, picked him for the state Supreme Court.

The 120 federal vacancies Trump still has to fill are more than twice the vacancies that greeted Obama during his tenure - seats he stacked with left-leaning judges, tipping the balance from a largely conservative federal judiciary to a liberal one.

Compared against his modern-day predecessors, Trump is behind the curve in announcing nominees to lower-profile positions below the Cabinet level.

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump committed to "appoint strong and principled jurists to the federal bench who will enforce the Constitution's limits on federal power and protect the liberty of all Americans". President George W. Bush did not even name his first court nominee until May 9, 2001.

This is Trump's opportunity to put his signature on the USA judicial system: During his term, he is expected to nominate hundreds of federal judges, and he could fill multiple Supreme Court seats in addition to Gorsuch, who was nominated to take the seat left open for more than a year after the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

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