An update on Trump appointments to the federal circuit courts

Link here. The article provides a very clear status report on the number of remaining vacancies nationwide, and the politics that explain the nomination status for the 9th circuit court.

The Senate has confirmed a record 24 new circuit court judges nationwide in 20 months — with two more nominees scheduled for votes this week. But Trump has made far less progress in the jurisdiction he criticizes the most: the liberal-leaning U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, including California and eight other Western states.

Since Trump took office, the Senate has confirmed only one 9th Circuit judge — in Hawaii — leaving seven openings. A nominee in Oregon was abruptly withdrawn last month when it became clear he lacked the votes for Senate approval. And Trump has yet to even nominate anyone for the three vacancies in California, partly because of a standoff with Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.

But there are signs that the administration is beginning to set its sights on the 9th Circuit, likely triggering a bruising fight with Democrats. For one thing, Trump is running out of vacancies in other circuits, particularly in conservative states where confirmation is easier. “They’ve been focusing on lower-hanging fruit,” said Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute. “After a while there are only so many seats to fill.”

More than half of the 13 vacancies remaining nationwide are on the 9th Circuit.

It appears to me that the Trump administration strategy has been to hold off in these liberal states until after the November election, betting that the Democrats will lose seats in the Senate and thus have less ability to block these nominations. This is a risky but reasonable strategy, considering the number of vulnerable Democratic Senators up for election in states Trump won handily in 2016.