In the Spring of 2014, one of the most prominent progressive legal scholars and ultra liberal member of the 9th United States Circuit Court of Appeals quietly pushed Judge Stephen Reinhardt to retire in fear of a conservative jurist replacing him. The New York Times reported on Saturday that U.C. Berkeley School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky came to Judge Reinhardt a few months before the 2014 midterm elections to make a suggestion that he retire.
Reinhardt refused the overtures and months later Republicans took control of the Senate and stopped Obama’s judicial confirmations. The election of Donald Trump pushed Reinhardt into a corner in what Western Journal called “an awkward actuarial battle, an increasingly common phenomenon as judicial appointments become highly politicized.” Reinhardt died on March 29 at 87.
The Daily Caller reported of Reinhardt:
His strident liberalism was of Warren Court vintage — powerful, but dissonant in the era of Chief Justice John Roberts.
Whatever his influence on the Ninth Circuit and the dozens of budding scholars, lawyers and activists who competed for his coveted clerkships, his ideas had little purchase at the Supreme Court.
24 out of 25 of Reinhardt’s rulings that the justices reviewed were overturned. These reversals also included stopping the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act and striking down a state law that stops doctors from prescribing terminal medications.
Reinhardt is just the most recent prominent appeals judge that President Trump will be finding a replacement for.
Towards the end of 2017, liberal Judges Richard Posner and Alex Kozinski of the federal judiciary left active service.
Posner served on the 7th United States Circuit Court of Appeals and retired in September of last year. Kozinski, who was a 9th Circuit Judge, retired in December after being slapped with sexual misconduct allegations. Both of them were considered to be conservatives, however they both left conservatism behind when it comes to legal orthodoxy.
Western Journal also wrote, “Trump has named two nominees for the Ninth Circuit thus far: Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Bounds was nominated for a seat in Oregon and former Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett for a seat in Hawaii. Neither has yet been confirmed.”
14 judges were confirmed to federal circuit courts in 2017 by the Senate. This is a new record in modern day. According to the United States Judicial Conference, there are currently 152 empty seats in the federal courts.
You can be sure that President Trump will do his best to find a good replacement for Judge Reinhardt.