The Volokh Conspiracy

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Chief Justice Roberts Was Right About One Thing: There are no "Trump Judges"

Trump-appointed Judges consistently rule against President Trump in election cases.


In 2018, Chief Justice Robert declared, "We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges." In election case after case, Trump appointees have proved the Chief was right about something.

Today, a unanimous Eleventh Circuit panel turned away L. Lin Wood's emergency appeal to enjoin certification of the Georgia election results. Chief Judge Bill Pryor wrote the majority opinion, joined by Judges Jill Pryor and Barbara Lagoa. Yes, the same Judge Lagoa who was on the super shortlist for the RBG seat. And you may recall that Pryor was on the super shortlist for Justice Scalia's seat.

Yesterday, another unanimous Eleventh Circuit panel denied relief in Sidney Powell's "Kraken" suit. Judge Andrew Brasher wrote the majority opinion. Trump had appointed Brasher to the District Court and to the Eleventh Circuit. He was joined by Judges Wilson and Rosenbaum.

Yesterday, Judge Brett Ludwig, a Trump appointee to the Eastern District of Wisconsin expressed serious concern about another Trump case. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported that Judge Ludwig "told an attorney for the president he was asking for 'pretty remarkable declaratory relief' by asking to have the fate of Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes decided by the Republican-led Legislature instead of voters.

Last week, a unanimous Third Circuit panel rejected President Trump's emergency appeal in a Pennsylvania case. Judge Bibas, one of Trump's first circuit appointees, soundly ruled against the President who appointed him. He was joined by two other W. Bush nominees, Chief Judge Smith and Judge Chagares. (Jon Adler wrote about the opinion here.)

I'm sure there are other cases I missed. But you get the idea.

Last term at the Court, Justice Gorsuch and Kavanaugh ruled against the President in Trump v. Vance, the New York tax return case. Well, nominally ruled against him at least: they still declared their independence.

For a generation, self-interested critics will deem Trump-appointed judges as illegitimate by association. Trump will have attainted them! At least during the final year of the Trump presidency, the new appointees have faithfully followed their oaths.