With the year’s final season now firmly installed and my attention focused on the day-to-day action in the congressional committees, I realize I’ve been remiss in not keeping up my scorecard on Donald Trump’s nominations to the federal courts.
There was of course, important Washington action 1,400 miles to the southwest, where the Nationals beat Houston in the World Series; but I have to recognize that there’s been hellzapoppin’ on the court beat.
When I last wrote about the new shoes under the federal bench, the score looked something like this: by the beginning of this year, the U.S. Senate, led by its majority leader Mitch McConnell, had approved Trump’s nominations of 85 federal judges, all dedicated conservatives — 53 judges for the U.S. District Courts, 30 judges for our federal courts of appeal, and Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to seats on the Supreme Court.
Since then the Republican senators have been working like girls in the shirtwaist factory, busy rubber-stamping Trump’s nominees, some of them very strange bozos indeed. Along the way, the Senate Judiciary Committee has held up several Trump nominees, including Steven Menashi, who is known to have made racist statements and has enjoyed re-telling the untrue myth that General Blackjack Pershing dipped bullets in pigs’ blood to execute Islamic prisoners.
As October closed out, the Judiciary Committee showed its most frightening visage to Trump’s latest pick, Lawrence J.C. VanDyke, who literally broke down, faced with a scathing letter from the 400,000-member American Bar Association that called him unqualified for a federal court seat.
William C. Hubbard, chairman of the bar association’s committee on the federal judiciary, wrote: “Mr. VanDyke’s accomplishments are offset by the assessments of  interviewees that Mr. VanDyke is arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules. There was a theme that the nominee lacks humility, has an ‘entitlement’ temperament, does not have an open mind, and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful.”
Democrats on the committee reacted with concern about the bar association’s charges. Senator Patrick Leahy called the letter one of the most alarming he’d seen after some 45 years in Congress. Senator Chris Coons observed that the letter was “fairly damning,” because it was based on interviews with people who had worked with VanDyke over the years.
It should be said that VanDyke isn’t alone. At least six of Trump’s judicial nominees have received the bar association’s “not qualified” rating. Of the six, the Senate has confirmed five as federal judges.
Over the past 33 months, the Trump administration and the Republican-led Senate have transformed the face of the federal judiciary by resolutely nominating and confirming a phalanx of conservative judges.
Anyway, it’s time for me to play clean-up here, like Juan Soto, batting fourth — the clean-up spot — for the Washington Nationals. All told, we now we have 157 new Trump-nominated, conservative judges: including 110 for our federal district courts; 43 for our courts of appeal, and two for the U.S. Court of International Trade, which we don’t hear about often.
Over the course of their lifetimes they will change the face of America.