Published in TIME
On the campaign trail in 2016, President Trump prioritized putting conservative judges on the bench, which has turned into a legacy project for his presidency. Many Trump allies credit his promise to nominate conservative judges—and to take the unprecedented step during the campaign of publicly releasing a list of judges he would consider for the Supreme Court—with being a key factor in his victory. National exit polls after the 2016 election showed that 21% of voters said the Supreme Court appointment was “the most important factor” in their decision, and those voters favored Trump.ADVERTISING
Yet federal judicial nominations and Supreme Court vacancies were never mentioned over the course of two Democratic debates in Detroit, despite the fact that Trump has already confirmed two Supreme Court justices and more than 100 lower court judges. The closest the candidates came to engaging on the issue was when Biden said he supports a constitutional right to an abortion during a discussion about the Hyde Amendment. It was a stark demonstration of how the right is better organized and more energized on abortion than the left. On Monday, liberal judicial advocacy group Alliance For Justice laid out the stakes this way in a statement: “As candidates prepare for the second debate, the Senate is preparing to confirm President Trump’s 150th judicial nominee to a lifetime seat on the federal bench. The harm Trump is inflicting on our federal courts is clear.” Still, there wasn’t a peep about the issue in five hours of substantive debate between 20 Democratic candidates.