When President Donald Trump took office last year, there were over 100 federal court vacancies, roughly twice as many as when President Barack Obama faced the same situation in 2009. Since then, President Trump has been nominating judges and having nominees confirmed at “record speed,” leading many senators from both sides of the aisle—from Senator Ted Cruz to Senator Chris Coons—to assert that the most long-lasting and significant legacy to the Trump administration “will be the men and women appointed and confirmed to the federal bench.”
This topic and others were part of the Federal Bar Association’s annual mid-year meeting in Washington, D.C. At that event, National Constitution Center president and CEO Jeffrey Rosen moderated a debate between John Malcolm, vice president at the Heritage Foundation, and Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, on the current state of the federal judiciary, and how President Trump’s recent appointments could continue to affect the courts and the law for years to come.
John Malcolm is Vice President of the Institute for Constitutional Government and Director of the Meese Center for Legal & Judicial Studies and Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, where he oversees the Heritage Foundation’s work to increase understanding of the Constitution and the rule of law.
Elizabeth Wydra is President of the Constitutional Accountability Center. From 2008-2016, she served as the CAC’s Chief Counsel, representing the Center as well as constitutional scholars and historians, state and local government organizations, and groups such as the League of Women Voters and the AARP.