People For the American Way

Documenting the Continuing Harm and Threats Caused by Trump’s Lifetime Judges

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Documenting the Continuing Harm and Threats Caused by Trump’s Lifetime Judges

Despite his refusal to admit it, the American people have ended Donald Trump’s presidency, and beginning on January 20, 2021, he will no longer be able to make nominations for lifetime appointments to the federal courts. Unfortunately, the many Trump judges that the Republican Senate has confirmed, particularly the 3 Supreme Court justices and 52 court of appeals judges as of this writing, will continue to write opinions and help decide crucial cases affecting the lives of Americans for many years, perhaps decades, to come. People For the American Way will accordingly continue its Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears (CJCF) project to help document the harms and dangers caused by these confirmed Trump judges.

It is particularly important to document the broad, systemic effect of such rulings and opinions, beyond their effect on individual litigants. This will further highlight the importance of Biden administration efforts to fill judicial vacancies with fair-minded constitutionalists  who have a demonstrated commitment to civil and human rights. It can also help as Congress considers legislation and the new administration considers administrative action in these areas, as well as such subjects as the environment, consumer rights, health care, strengthening the social safety net, police misconduct, and many more where court decisions can have a major impact.

This January, Republican Senators who supported some of the most extreme Trump judges are in run-off elections to hold onto their seats,  and how these Senators voted on Trump’s extreme judicial nominees should be a factor in these elections. The same is true in 2022 Senate elections as well.

To better demonstrate the systemic effects  of Trump appellate judges’ opinions, we are adjusting the way we track cases in several respects.

  • We will  continue to review all divided cases involving Trump appellate judges, but we will focus on writing up those cases with a broad or systemic impact beyond the individual litigants in the case.
  • We will continue to analyze and write about divided Supreme Court cases, including 6-3 as well as 5-4 cases now that there are three Trump justices on the Court.
  • And we will also start examining and writing about unanimous appellate decisions involving Trump judges that similarly have a systemic impact on the issues we are following, as listed in the CJCF online tool. This will include, for example, the October ruling by three Trump judges on the Fifth Circuit that reinstated Texas Governor Abbott’s limit of one absentee drop-off box per county that harmed many Texas voters in the November election.

We are beginning to phase in these adjustments, and hope to have them completely implemented by January. We plan to continue writing monthly summaries of CJCF cases;  and expect to complete a monthly summary of November cases by early January.

We appreciate the interest by PFAW allies, members of Congress and their staffs, journalists, PFAW members, and people across the country in this important project. We hope you will continue to find the work important and useful.