People For the American Way

‘Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears’: Trump Judges Show How Important Judicial Nominations Are in this Election


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As America has already begun to vote, and as the Senate Republican majority’s rushed process of pushing through the Supreme Court nomination of Amy Coney Barrett has come to its conclusion, recent votes and decisions by Trump justices and judges illustrate the crucial stakes in this year’s elections for President and the Senate. This is shown by the links below to posts concerning 27 closely divided cases from PFAW’s “Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears” blog series so far for September and October 2020.

Two important trends emerge from these decisions: 12 cases in which Trump appointees have largely succeeded in restricting voting by Americans in the upcoming November elections,  and 5 cases involving efforts by Trump judges, sometimes successful, to uphold challenged policies and practices of the Trump Administration concerning reproductive rights, immigration, and the census.  Specifically:

  • Trump appointees have restricted voting in next week’s elections by such methods as making it harder to cast absentee ballots despite the COVID-19 pandemic in Wisconsin and other states; upholding Florida’s restrictions on voting by people with past felony convictions; and banning curbside voting for disabled and elderly voters in Alabama. Some Trump appointees wanted to go even further, such as Justice Gorsuch’s dissents arguing that absentee ballots already cast by some South Carolina voters should be disqualified and that the North Carolina election board’s extension of the time for absentee ballots to be received should be stopped.  This total of 12 cases does not even include those without significant dissents, such as the unanimous ruling by three Fifth Circuit Trump judges to limit absentee ballot drop boxes in Texas. In addition, with the addition of Barrett to the Supreme Court, restrictive rulings are still possible after the election concerning voting in such key states as Pennsylvania.
  • Among the crucial votes cast by Trump judges in favor of restrictive Trump policies and practices were a deciding vote by one Trump judge that upheld a Trump Administration plan to expel more than 300,000 immigrants by ending the protected status they have had for as long as two decades and a dissent by several Trump  judges trying to put into effect in one state a restrictive abortion gag rule that other Trump judges have helped uphold elsewhere. Even such dissents could well become the law if they are reviewed by a Supreme Court now including Barrett or after even more Trump judges are added to lower courts.

All these cases and more center judicial nominations as a critical issue in this year’s elections for President and the Senate.  These cases have all been entered in our Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears tool, which you can search by judge or by issue.




About People For the American Way

People For the American Way is a progressive advocacy organization founded to fight right-wing extremism and build a democratic society that implements the ideals of freedom, equality, opportunity and justice for all. We encourage civic participation, defend fundamental rights, and fight to dismantle systemic barriers to equitable opportunityLearn more: