President Trump said Wednesday he will appoint more than 180 judges by the end of the year, celebrating the historic milestone at a White House event attended by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Republicans recognized for remaking the federal bench.
More than 157 of Mr. Trump’s judicial nominees have been confirmed, and dozens are awaiting confirmation for district and circuit court vacancies.
Mr. Trump, who said his nominees “will uphold our Constitution as written,” said the number of judicial confirmations is “a big moment” in the nation’s history. He mostly credited Mr. McConnell for moving federal judges through the confirmation process at an unprecedented speed to fill out the federal judiciary.
“Generations from now, Americans will know Mitch McConnell helped save the constitutional rule of law in America,” Mr. Trump said.
He called the Kentucky Republican to the East Room podium, who said giving the federal bench a conservative bent is part of the way Mr. Trump has helped “to make America great again.”
“I’m reminded of election night when I realized not only had you won but we had taken the House. We had held the Senate and this was going to be one of those unusual periods where Republicans have all three branches,” Mr. McConnell said.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, thanked the president for backing the nomination of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, saying that was a pivotal moment in U.S. history.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said Mr. Trump has appointed a number of judges to protect his own agenda, not to protect the public interest.
She said Republicans blocked President Obama’s judicial nominees, noting he had 53 vacancies when he came into office but Mr. Trump inherited 110 vacancies when he was elected.
“Republicans are now disregarding Senate norms and traditions in order to fill vacancies as quickly as possible,” she said.
Liberal groups have argued the president’s nominees are outside of the mainstream and will tighten abortion regulations.
“Trump and McConnell have together been brazenly rigging our courts to attack access to health care, reproductive freedom, LGBTQ equality, worker and consumer rights, and protections for the environment,” said Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice.
Marge Baker, executive vice president of People for the American Way, said Mr. Trump’s judges have made rulings based on race and age.
“Voters — who last night showed us in Virginia and Kentucky that they are already fed up with Trump and his agenda — will certainly remember Trump was responsible for getting so many terrible judges confirmed when they see his name on the ballot next November,” Ms. Baker said.
But Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel at the First Liberty Institute, said the Trump appointees have been astounding, upholding religious liberty.
“As an organization committed to defending religious freedom, we are thrilled with the confirmation record of the president’s judicial nominees who are faithful to protecting our First Amendment rights,” he said.