Judicial Nominations

In a more extensive piece about the vacancies into which President-Elect Donald Trump can nominate Federal judges, The Washington Post emphasized the nature of President Barack Obama’s (D) appointments—and by extension, the differences in judicial qualification philosophy between the two Presidents, although that wasn’t necessarily intentional.

Trump is likely to appoint judges with a view toward

[s]tate gun control laws, abortion restrictions, voter laws, anti-discrimination measures, and immigrant issues are all matters that are increasingly heard by federal judges and will be influenced by the new composition of the courts. Trump has vowed to choose ideologues in the mold of the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon….

Even though none of those are matters of ideology, much as the newspaper would like it to be, but rather are matters of adherence to the Constitution and understanding of the legal questions involved in today’s controversies.

On the other hand, Obama selected his nominees on the basis of…diversity.

Obama has used his nominations to systematically diversify the federal courts to look more like the fast-changing country. He appointed far more female and minority judges than any other president in history, and he has paid particular attention to sexual orientation. When Obama took office, there was only one openly gay or lesbian judge, and he appointed 11 more.

“The president, my predecessors and I spent a significant amount of time looking for all different kinds of diversity—racial, sexual orientation, gender, and professional background,” [White House Counsel Neil] Eggleston said.

Not at all an emphasis on Constitutional adherence, or even legal qualification: just whether a nominee was a member of an identity group within Obama’s identity politics.

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