Donald Trump's Federal Judge Selections Have Been the Most Mainstream Thing He's Done, Experts Say

The ability to appoint federal judges is one of Donald Trump's greatest presidential powers. His nomination of a second Supreme Court justice in his first term will likely be one of his most significant legacies.

But law experts told Newsweek that Trump's choices have been the most mainstream Republican actions he has taken since taking office.

"What we are seeing are fairly conventional Republican picks so far," David Fontana, a law professor at George Washington University, said.

Fontana added that President Trump's shortlist for the next judge to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy will likely come from mainstream conservative groups like The Heritage Foundation think tank, as well as the Federalist Society and law firms from across the country.

After two terms of President Barack Obama, these organizations had already groomed and identified an impressive pool of law professors and judges ready to take action if the GOP took back control of the White House, Fontana said. And, for many Republicans who were skeptical about Trump's résumé and bombastic personality, the promise of stocking the Supreme Court and federal bench with conservative picks was enough to win Trump their votes.

David Pozen, a law professor at Columbia University and a former Supreme Court law clerk, echoed Fontana's assessment.

"In his judicial appointments so far, Trump has not deviated much from the standard Republican Party template," Pozen told Newsweek. "If Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio had been president, their appointments would have looked very similar."

"I don't think we'll get a distinctly Trumpian new justice as much as a member of the conservative establishment," he added.

In his first year in the Oval Office, Trump set a record for the number of federal judges he was able to appoint with the Senate's approval. In 2017, the number was 12 judges, but by March of 2018, that amount had already increased to about 30. While some of his nominations have been thrown out by Congress for lack of experience, experts told Newsweek that the Senate has been moving these nominees forward rather quickly.

In fact, Trump has even thanked his predecessor for leaving so many court vacancies to be filled. He said in a speech that when he took office there were "over 100 federal judges that weren't appointed."

"I don't know why Obama left that," Trump said. "It was like a big, beautiful present to all of us. Why the hell did he leave that?"

Trump's conventional picks will no doubt move the court back toward a conservative center, and left-leaning political organizations worry that key freedoms like abortion rights may be at stake. Democrats and other liberal organizations are pushing for a delay in the appointment of another Supreme Court Justice until after the 2018 midterm elections, when Democrats are hoping to flip congressional seats to take back some control in Washington D.C.

Alliance for Justice, a progressive judicial advocacy group, has been vehemently opposed to any of the federal judges put on the bench by Trump and strongly disagree with experts that these nominations have been typically Republican. "All of them" are very conservative, Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron told Newsweek. "All of them."

"All of them share one characteristic, and that is that they will upend the progress that Americans have made for decades and will turn back the clock on our hard-won rights and liberties," she added.