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Trump Aims to Top 180 Judicial Appointments in Coming Months (1)

Nov. 6, 2019, 7:40 PMUpdated: Nov. 6, 2019, 11:41 PM

The U.S. Senate easily confirmed another of President Donald Trump’s federal appeals court picks Nov. 6, and he pledged to appoint a lot more soon.

In remarks at the White House marking a judicial confirmation milestone during his administration, Trump said he expects the Republican-led Senate to confirm roughly two dozen more nominees in coming months, raising his appointment total to more than 180 since taking office.

Trump and his Senate allies have aggressively moved to reshape the federal judiciary with younger conservatives to the dismay of Democrats who contend a number of his appointees lack requisite qualifications or are too ideological.

So far, Trump has appointed more than 150 judges to district and circuit courts as well as Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

Judicial appointments is one area where Trump and congressional Republicans have worked well together and can claim significant progress on a shared agenda item that’s of crucial importance to conservative voters.

With the confirmation of Danielle Hunsaker, 73 to 17, to the California-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in the books, attention now turns to a Senate vote set for Nov. 7 on the confirmation of William Nardini to the New York-based Second Circuit. He is expected to clear the chamber as well.

Confirmation of both would mean Trump has seated a quarter of the 179 federal appeals court seats. Trump called that goal a “momentous achievement.”

Nardini, who is a federal prosecutor in Connecticut, clerked for retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and two Second Circuit judges. Hunsaker would add to Trump’s seven appointees already sitting on the Ninth Circuit, if confirmed. She’s currently an Oregon state judge and clerked for Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain on the Ninth Circuit.

With the pair moving forward, two other appeals nominees are struggling to clear the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Halil Sulyman Ozerden, a selection considered not conservative enough for Republicans, and Steven Menashi, a White House lawyer who’s faced fierce opposition from Democrats, are again scheduled for committee votes Nov. 7. It’s unclear if they’ll be approved.

Joining Trump at the podium for brief remarks was Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who praised the Gorsuch and Kavanaugh appointments.

He noted his own role in the process by saying that Trump was helped “enormously” by the decision of top Senate Republicans also in attendance at the White House event to block consideration of Merrick Garland to the high court by not permitting a hearing on his nomination in 2016.

“And these guys backed me up, not to let President Obama fill that (Antonin) Scalia vacancy on the way out the door, and boy you didn’t blow it,” McConnell said. “Neil Gorsuch is an all-star, isn’t he?”

To contact the reporter on this story: Madison Alder in Washington at malder@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jessie Kokrda Kamens at jkamens@bloomberglaw.com; John Crawley at jcrawley@bloomberglaw.com