US President-elect Donald Trump, who will inherit over 100 vacant federal courts, and an open Supreme Court seat, plans to reshape the judiciary after taking office, a media report said.
The judicial vacancies that President Barack Obama would hand over to Trump in the January 20 transition of power was nearly double the 54 openings that Obama found eight years back, the Washington Post reported on Monday.
Confirmation of Obama’s judicial nominees slowed to a crawl after Republicans took control of the Senate in 2015.
Obama White House officials blamed Senate Republicans for “an unprecedented level of obstruction” in blocking the Democratic president’s court picks.
The result was a multitude of openings throughout the federal circuit and district courts that would allow the new Republican president “to quickly make a wide array of lifetime appointments”.
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State gun control laws, abortion restrictions, voter laws, anti-discrimination measures and immigrant issues were all matters that were increasingly heard by federal judges and would be influenced by the new composition of the courts.
Trump has vowed to choose ideologues in the mould of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon — a prospect that has activists on the right “giddy”.
The Supreme Court vacancy created by Scalia’s death in February was a motivating issue for many conservative voters, especially evangelical Christians, to turn out for Trump in November.
Senate Republicans refused to hold even a hearing on Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, for the Scalia seat.
“Republican tactics have been shameful and will forever leave a stain on the US Senate,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.
“Republican congressional dysfunction has now metastasised to the third branch of government, and that is not a legacy to be proud of,” Schultz added.
Trump spoke frequently about his intentions to put forward a more conservative Supreme Court nominee as a way to galvanise the right.
“The replacement of our beloved Justice Scalia will be a person of similar views, principles and judicial philosophies,” Trump said in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.
“Very important. This will be one of the most important issues decided by this election,” he said.