This is quite surprising…
President Donald Trump congratulated his predecessor, former President Barack Obama, for leaving so many federal judicial vacancies on Monday night after his term expired and left the White House.
“Well, thank you, Mr. President, for making America great again,” Senate Majority Leader McConnell said during a rally in Lexington, Kentucky. ” … and working together we are changing the federal courts forever.”
“Nobody has done more to change the court system in the history of our country than Donald Trump,” he continued. “And Mr. President, we are going to keep on doing it — my motto is leave no vacancy behind.”
McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul joined Trump, who held a rally in the Blue Grass state in preparation for the gubernatorial campaign. McConnell holds the seat of Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first Supreme Court appointment. He was also instrumental in driving the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh following highly controversial hearings with the Judiciary Committee of the Senate.
“So, President Obama left Mitch, and me, and Rand, and all of us, he left 142 openings for judges,” Trump told the crowd. “You’re not supposed to allow any, you don’t do that. You know, they say the most important thing that a president can do is federal judges, including the Supreme Court, obviously.”
“And I came in and I said ‘how many do we have?’ And they said ‘how many what, sir?’ I said ‘judge openings.’ And I thought they would say none, or one, or two. They said ‘Sir, we have 142.’ I said ‘what?’ I said ‘tell me again.’ They said 142,” he continued. “So Mitch, and I, and Rand would like to thank very much President Obama because nobody has ever been so generous in their life.”
More than 150 of the president’s nominations have been confirmed by the Senate since he was sworn in. Trump has often cited the unprecedented number of conservative judges he has unanimously appointed to the court, which many deem his greatest achievement and eventually will be his legacy. He also expressed frustration with the slow-moving confirmation process, however, accusing Democrats of stonewalling both his executive and judicial nominees.
In the past, the president facetiously expressed his thanks to Obama for not replacing all the federal judicial vacancies that existed under his presidency. There were more than 100 life-time openings in the lower court before Trump first took office, including 17 in the U.S. Court of Appeals. Although the Supreme Court reviews about 75 cases a year, tens of thousands are heard by the Court of Appeals, for which they are the last word.
“They are the ones that judge all of your disputes,” Trump said of the lower courts in March 2018. “They judge what is fair on the environment and what is not.”
“I don’t know why Obama left that,” he added, referring to the vacancies. “It was like a big, beautiful present to all of us.”