Even if he were ousted tomorrow, Trump would be leaving a ticking time bomb — his appointments to the Federal Appeals Courts. It works like this:
While media attention goes to the US Supreme Court, the appeals courts are actually more important. That’s because about 60,000 cases per year are filed with them, but the Supreme Court only hears about 80 cases per year. That means that the appeals courts are usually the courts that last hear and rule on cases. These can be anything from prisoners rights to the right of states to protect the environment. What’s happened was that for the last four years the Republican-controlled Senate has refused to act on appointments by Barack Obama, so some 130 judicial vacancies have piled up.
Remember Trump’s campaign promise to appoint great judges? Well, he’s making good on that (depending on what you mean by “great”). His list of nominees is basically composed by the White House legal counsil, Donald F. McGahn II, who according to his own words has been a member of the Federalist Society since law school.
So, the question is: What is the Federalist Society?
This is a group of legal scholars who formally advocates that all court rulings should be based on a literal interpretation of the Constitution as the framers of the Constitution meant it. We should keep in mind that these framers all accepted slavery, and that one of them – the first president of the US, George Washington – said that “the tumultuous populace of the large cities are ever to be dreaded.” Hiding behind this legal philosophy is always the drive to trample workers’ rights and return the United States back to the days of the 1920s and earlier.
Usually these conservative groups are able to keep their links with fascist racists under wraps, but every once in awhile the covers come off. That’s what happened back in 2011, when the Dallas chapter of the Federalists gave a platform to Peter Brimelow, who ran a blog site called VDARE.com. The name comes from Virginia Dare, who was the first white settler born in America. Brimelow argues that America is and should remain a white dominated country and has complained that the Republicans weren’t sufficiently “pro-white”.
Trump’s bigoted nominees
Just as groups like the Federalist Society manage to keep their racism under wraps most times, so it is with most far right politicians. But the covers have slipped with a few of Trump’s nominees:
John Bush, 52 years old, was nominated for the 6th Circuit Appeals Court. A prolific blogger, Bush has compared abortion to slavery and has relied on the racist World News Daily web site for stories. Among other things, he has repeated the “birthers'” lies about Obama.
Damien Schiff, 37 years old, has been nominated for the US Court of Federal Claims, which oversees environmental suits, among other things. Schiff was an attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, a group that specializes in fighting environmental regulations. He called Supreme Court Judge Kennedy a “prostitute” for not ruling as he (Schiff) would have liked. He has defended bullying of gay school students and has also opposed school curriculum that teaches against racism.
- Jeff Mateer, 52, nominated for the US District Court of Eastern Texas. He has
called same sex marriage “debauchery”, claimed that there is no constitutional separation of church and state, and was a lawyer for First Liberty, which is a religious fanatic political group. He said making provisions for transgender children in school was “Satan’s plan.”
Brett Talley, 36, nominated for an Alabama district court. In 2011, Talley wrote on a blog post defending the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest. He also defended the Ku Klux Klan in its early days.
Both Mateer and Talley were on their way to confirmation when these comments came out and their appointments had to be withdrawn. But how many other Trump appointees are such flaming racists and religious bigots? We can be certain that there are dozens of others who simply had the sense to keep their overt racism and hatred of women to themselves.
Note that the oldest of these appointees is in his early 50s, meaning they will be on the bench for probably 20 years at the least. They will be, in effect, writing the laws.
How will a renewed radical working class movement be forced to deal with this situation? One step will have to be jury nullification. That means that if a jury finds a law to be unjust, it simply won’t enforce it. But then there are all the civil suits, which can reach these reactionary judges no matter how juries rule. A mass movement will have to “nullify” those judges’ rulings.