Published in NC Policy Watch
President Donald Trump suffered a stinging policy setback last week when, notwithstanding the remarkable flip-flop of North Carolina’s Thom Tillis, 12 Republican senators joined with their Democratic colleagues to disapprove of Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southern border. The vote was just the latest in series of defeats and policy failures for Trump as he muddles his way through the second half of what is increasingly shaping up to be a notably scandal-plagued and ineffectual presidency.
If, however, there is a single, most important exception to Trump’s losing record over the past 26 months, it has to be in the battle over the federal courts. When it comes to remaking the judiciary by bestowing lifetime appointments on a veritable army of conservative ideologues, Trump has, with the active collaboration of GOP senators, had great success. Just last week, Trump and company succeeded in placing former administration official Neomi Rao on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit — the court generally recognized as the nation’s second highest. Rao takes the slot vacated by Brett Kavanaugh when he ascended to the Supreme Court. North Carolina’s Richard Burr and Thom Tillis both voted “yes” on the nomination.
As numerous court watchers have observed, Rao is demonstrably unfit for the job. She has blamed sexual assault survivors for being attacked, shamed women for seeking equality in the workplace, belittled the fight for racial justice, and demeaned LGBTQ people. She has made clear she wants to use the courts to weaken protections for health and safety, workers, and consumers.
Sadly, in addition to including numerous extreme and unqualified individuals,Trump’s growing slate of judicial nominees features a striking lack of diversity.