By Talia Kaplan
Published February 24, 2020
President Trump has reshaped the “notoriously liberal” U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, according to Carrie Severino, the conservative Judicial Crisis Network's chief counsel and policy director, who noted it was often referred to as the “Ninth Circus.”
The former law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas made the comments Monday on “Fox & Friends” in response to a Los Angeles Times article titled “Trump has flipped the 9th Circuit — and some new judges are causing a ‘shock wave.’”
The article said that when President Trump talks about his accomplishments in office, “he frequently mentions his aggressive makeover of a key sector of the federal judiciary — the circuit courts of appeal, where he has appointed 51 judges to lifetime jobs in three years.”
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which encompasses California, Arizona, Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Idaho, Guam, Oregon and Washington, was a liberal bastion that has been aggressively reshaped into a more moderate court by the Trump administration.
The Ninth Circuit Court handles cases of high interest to the Trump administration, such as immigration and detention.
“He hasn’t flipped it entirely,” Severino noted on Monday. “When he came into office the notoriously liberal Ninth Circuit Court, people call it the ‘Ninth Circus’ – it’s so out to lunch – had 11 more Democratic appointees than Republicans, now that margin is down to three, so he hasn’t fully flipped it, but practically speaking, he has.”
Referencing the Los Angeles Times article, Severino said that she thinks “there probably is a shock wave going through the court, but it’s because it’s the first time the rule of law has been cited in the Ninth Circuit for decades.”
On Monday, host Ainsley Earhardt noted that Trump has made 10 Ninth Circuit Court appointments so far during his presidency, compared to former President Obama's seven appointments.
“It has a huge impact and the Ninth Circuit is historically the most overturned by the Supreme Court," Severino said. "It's where you go as a liberal litigant if you just want an easy win, so that has really stopped in the tracks a lot of this liberal judicial activism.”
“Some of the nominees to that circuit are some of the most exceptional, really experienced litigators, state’s solicitors general, etc., so it is having a huge impact on the culture of that circuit, I think, and I think it’s got a lot of the liberal judges running scared,” she continued.
“If they spent half as much time trying to come up with the correct legal result in cases rather than complaining about their colleagues to the L.A. Times, I think we’d be better off.”
Fox News’ Gregg Re and The Associated Press contributed to this report.