Former President Donald Trump consistently pulled rightward the West Coast’s most powerful federal court through his appointments. Now, as President Biden eyes the judiciary, he will have the chance to swing it back to the left.
Since the election, a number of aging judges on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have indicated that they are preparing to take senior status, a state of semi-retirement that frees up the president to pick a replacement. These nine members were all appointed by then-President Bill Clinton, and for years, they gave the court a reliable liberal bent.
Trump upended that power balance. During his term, he cut the 11-seat lead Democratic-appointed judges held on the 29-judge court to a margin of three. The court governs a massive amount of territory (California and six other Western states, as well as Alaska and Hawaii), and the consequences were considerable. The once-liberal bastion now often delivers conservative opinions on hot-button issues