Protecting Lower Courts - People For the American Way

Protecting Lower Courts

While the Supreme Court is often what springs to mind when Americans think about our judicial system, most federal cases never make it to the high court. The vast majority are decided by district courts (where trials happen) or circuit courts (where appeals happen). These judges are confirmed for lifetime appointments, and it's more urgent than ever to confirm fair-minded lower court judges who understand the impact their decisions have on our lives. We need to protect our lower courts and advocate for judges who respect justice and equality for all.

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The Right-Wing Takeover of Appeals Courts

During his 2016 campaign, Donald Trump promised to nominate ideological judges “in the mold of the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia.” During Trump’s time in office, he did just that, working with conservative legal groups like the Federalist Society to appoint federal judges who rubber-stamped the former president’s extreme agenda and served the interests of corporations and the wealthy over the rest of us.

Trump judges’ rulings and dissents are nothing short of a disaster for for our rights, and will continue to be so throughout their lifetime appointments. Appellate courts often serve as the final word on many key legal rights and civil liberties that affect our everyday lives. Trump’s judges are rolling back those rights — and because federal judges have tenure for life, the impact of their decisions will last for a generation or longer.

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Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears

Since 2017, PFAW’s Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears blog series has covered Trump appellate judges troubling votes and decisions, highlighting select cases in which Trump judges dissented or split from their colleagues on legal rights in key areas including voting rights, LGBTQ+ equality, racial equity, reproductive rights, the rights of working people, checks and balances on presidential power, repealing the New Deal and more.

In 2019, PFAW launched a new corresponding interactive tool to allow progressive activists to sort by issue area or by judge to see, at a glance, Trump judges’ bad rulings in each issue area and get a clearer picture of that judge’s individual impact on important rights.

Go to the tool