The president is stocking the courts with a class of brilliant young textualists bearing little relation to even their Reagan or Bush predecessors. Mr. Trump’s nastygrams to Bob Corker will be a distant memory next week. Notre Dame law professor Amy Coney Barrett’s influence on the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could still be going strong 40 years from now.
.. Mr. Trump has now nominated nearly 60 judges, filling more vacancies than Barack Obama did in his entire first year. There are another 160 court openings, allowing Mr. Trump to flip or further consolidate conservative majorities on the circuit courts that have the final say on 99% of federal legal disputes.
.. Harry Reid’s 2013 decision to blow up the filibuster for judicial nominees has freed the Trump White House from having to worry about a Democratic veto during confirmation. Mr. McGahn’s team (loaded with former Clarence Thomas clerks) has carte blanche to work with outside groups like the Federalist Society to tap the most conservative judges.
.. The result has been a band of young rock stars and Scalia-style textualists like Ms. Barrett, Texas Supreme Court Justice Don Willett and Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice David Stras.
.. Because Mr. Trump’s picks have largely spent their careers focused on administrative law and constitutional questions, few have gotten bogged down by controversial cultural rulings. They do have paper trails, but mostly on serious and technical issues. This helps reassure Republicans even as it deprives Democrats of the fodder they’d need to stage dramatic opposition.
.. Conservatives praised Mr. McConnell last year for refusing to consider Judge Merrick Garland, whom Mr. Obama had nominated to the Supreme Court. Less well known is the sheer number of federal judgeships Mr. McConnell sat on as the Obama administration wound down. Mr. Trump took office with 107 lower-court vacancies
.. The Trump judicial reset was never guaranteed. Mr. McConnell just happens to have a steely passion for remaking the judiciary. Previous majority leaders Trent Lott (best friends with trial lawyers) and Bill Frist (nice, nice) would never have gotten Justice Gorsuch confirmed. Those guys were the “establishment.”
.. Mr. Trump will keep baiting the media with shiny objects. In the background, government is being redone.
To most people with any awareness of Arizona politics, Mr. Arpaio is an abomination to the rule of law, the principle of equal justice and plain decency.
.. abusing and humiliating them, refusing to stop even after a federal judge told him to, and arresting journalists for reporting on it all.
.. Yet to President Trump, Mr. Arpaio is a role model: a man for whom the “rule of law” means that he can do what he wants when he wants, who humiliates those weaker than him and mocks those who try to constrain him, who evades scrutiny and accountability — in short, a perfect little tyrant.
.. The Arpaio pardon is not only morally reprehensible on its own, it is also in line with Mr. Trump’s broader attitude toward law enforcement. Consider his affection for the Milwaukee County sheriff, David Clarke, an Arpaio in waiting who has called activists in the Black Lives Matter movement “terrorists” and who runs a county jail where inmates have a tendency to die under suspicious circumstances.
.. During the presidential campaign,
- Mr. Trump endorsed the use of torture on terrorism suspects,
- encouraged supporters at his rallies to assault protesters and
- made racially tinged comments about a judge overseeing a case involving Trump University.
In his seven months as president, Mr. Trump has
- attacked federal judges who ruled against the administration’s travel ban;
- tried to impede investigations into his allies, including Mr. Arpaio;
- and exhorted police officers to treat suspects roughly — which earned a quick rebuke from his own Justice Department and police officials around the country.
But this is Donald Trump’s rule of law — a display of personal dominance disconnected from concerns about law and order, equality or the Constitution.