Trump’s judge se­lec­tion skews white

Out of 87 nom­i­nees, seven are mi­nori­ties

USA TODAY US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Richard Wolf

WASH­ING­TON – Pres­i­dent Trump’s search for deeply con­ser­va­tive fed­eral judges hasn’t turned up many African Amer­i­cans or His­pan­ics.

Among Trump’s first 87 ju­di­cial nom­i­nees, only one is African Amer­i­can, and one is His­panic. Five are Asian Amer­i­cans. Eighty are white.

The de­mo­graph­ics sig­nal a re­turn to the 1980s, when 94% of Pres­i­dent Rea­gan’s con­firmed judges were white. Since then, mi­nor­ity en­roll­ment in law schools has nearly tripled.

The past four pres­i­dents, both Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic, filled at least 10% of open seats on the fed­eral bench with black or His­panic nom­i­nees.

More than one-third of Pres­i­dent Obama’s con­firmed judges were mi­nori­ties.

“It is most un­for­tu­nate,” says Kris­ten

Clarke, pres­i­dent of the Lawyers’ Com­mit­tee for Civil Rights Un­der

Law. “It turns the clock back on years of work and effort that went into pro­mot­ing ju­di­cial di­ver­sity.”

Mon­day, Trump nom­i­nated seven men and two women to fed­eral ap­pel­late and dis­trict courts.

“Sur­prise!” tweeted Obama’s for­mer White House deputy coun­sel, Christo­pher Kang. “All 9 of Trump’s ju­di­cial nom­i­nees to­day ap­pear to be white.”

Nan Aron, pres­i­dent of the lib­eral Al­liance for Jus­tice, sus­pects the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s goal is to have strict con­ser­va­tives at all costs.

“These nom­i­nees are the prod­uct of years-long groom­ing and a net­work­ing process that was put in place by the Fed­er­al­ist So­ci­ety,” Aron says. “They are pick­ing from the most ide­o­log­i­cally

ex­treme end of the spec­trum.”

Un­like Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, who chose 18% mi­nor­ity judges, the new ad­min­is­tra­tion has made an effort to find can­di­dates who ad­here to the twin ju­di­cial philoso­phies of orig­i­nal­ism and tex­tu­al­ism — strict ad­her­ence to the Con­sti­tu­tion and fed­eral statutes.

“Work­ing with the Se­nate, we are ap­point­ing judges who will in­ter­pret the Con­sti­tu­tion as writ­ten, in­clud­ing a great new Supreme Court jus­tice and more cir­cuit court judges than any new ad­min­is­tra­tion in the his­tory of our coun­try,” Trump said in his State of the Union Ad­dress last month.

He cited gun rights and re­li­gious lib­erty as pri­or­i­ties.

Qual­ity over quo­tas

Se­nate Repub­li­cans who con­firmed those ap­peals court judges at a record pace her­ald the change.

“Pres­i­dent Trump had more new cir­cuit court judges con­firmed in his first year than any prior pres­i­dent, a tes­ti­mony to the fine qual­ity of the nom­i­nees he sends here to the Se­nate,” Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., says.

Carrie Sev­erino, chief coun­sel at the con­ser­va­tive Ju­di­cial Cri­sis Net­work, which has pro­moted and ap­plauded Trump’s nom­i­nees, says qual­ity is more im­por­tant than quo­tas.

“Pres­i­dent Trump isn’t look­ing for peo­ple to fit a quota. He’s look­ing for peo­ple with a prin­ci­pled ju­di­cial phi­los- ophy,” she says. “The fun­da­men­tal ques­tion is mak­ing sure we have judges who are go­ing to be faith­ful to the Con­sti­tu­tion.”

The pres­i­dent has nom­i­nated five Asian Amer­i­cans for judge­ships, in­clud­ing James Ho, the first to serve on the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the 5th Cir­cuit cover­ing Texas, Louisiana and Mis­sis­sippi. Two others have come from McCon­nell’s home state of Ken­tucky.

Alabama’s Terry Moorer is the lone African-Amer­i­can nom­i­nee, and Texas’ Fer­nando Ro­driguez the lone His­panic. Both were nom­i­nated for dis­trict courts.

Where’s the di­ver­sity?

The trend to­ward white judges is chang­ing the face of the na­tion’s courts:

Trump se­lected white nom­i­nees for 10 seats that Obama un­suc­cess­fully sought to fill with mi­nori­ties.

The 5th Cir­cuit ap­peals court soon will have no His­panic judges, down from three dur­ing Obama’s first term. Nearly four in 10 Texas res­i­dents are His­panic.

The 7th Cir­cuit ap­peals court has no mi­nor­ity judges. Illi­nois is about 40% mi­nor­ity, and In­di­ana and Wis­con­sin are about 20%.

“Why can’t they find any di­ver­sity, or why aren’t they try­ing to find any di­ver­sity?” says Kang, who man­aged Obama’s ju­di­cial nom­i­na­tions for four years. “There are some re­ally con­ser­va­tive judges out there who are also peo­ple of color.

“If the con­ser­va­tive ju­di­cial phi­los­o­phy is so alien­at­ing to peo­ple of color, who will soon be a ma­jor­ity in this coun­try, I think that’s an in­dict­ment of that ju­di­cial phi­los­o­phy it­self.”

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