“This is the federal appellate court where Trump’s appointees could have the most immediate impact”

I’ve analyzed President’s Trump’s ability to impact the composition of the Third Circuit here and here. I wrote, “My best guess is that by 2018 the Third Circuit has 7 GOP-nominated judges and 7 Dem-nominated judges and that overall the court will be significantly more conservative-leaning than it is now.”

On Friday, Jonathan Adler posted this analysis on Volokh Conspiracy, headlined, “How President Trump will shape the federal courts.” He writes (emphasis added):

On the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal, there are currently 17 vacancies, with two more to come in February. Trump’s nominations for these spots will be significant, but they will not do much to alter the ideological balance on individual courts. Other than the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 2nd and 3rd Circuits, Trump’s initial nominees will either expand Republican-appointed majorities or modestly bolster Republican-appointed minorities.

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Third Circuit: Two vacancies. A third vacancy will be created on Feb. 1 when Judge D. Michael Fisher takes senior status. This is the federal appellate court where Trump’s appointees could have the most immediate impact. Among sitting judges there are seven Democratic nominees and five Republican nominees (including Fisher). If Trump is able to fill these vacancies, the 3rd Circuit will have an equal number of Democratic and Republican nominees.

So Adler’s math looks a lot like mine.

He also offers this interesting take (and reiterates it here):

For what it’s worth, I expect that the rate at which judges retire or take senior status will be affected by the caliber and qualifications of Trump’s initial judicial nominees. That is, sitting judges will feel more comfortable taking senior status and creating new vacancies if they feel confident that they will be replaced by qualified nominees. This may be particularly true for Republican appointees on the bench, insofar as we assume that judges prefer to be replaced by a president of the same party that appointed  them, but I expect the qualifications of Trump’s nominees will influence the decisions of Democratic appointees as well.

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