The Senate confirmed President Trump’s 43rd circuit court nominee Tuesday, far outpacing his predecessor who only saw 19 federal appeals court judges appointed during the same period of time.
The confirmation of Judge Peter Phipps to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also puts the president ahead of President George W. Bush, who saw just 30 appeals court judges appointed in his first two and a half years in office.
The Senate voted 56 to 40 to confirm Judge Phipps, making him the fourth Trump appointed judge to the 3rd Circuit, which hears appeals from Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands. Only three Democrats, Sen. Doug Jones, Sen. Joe Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, joined the GOP supporting Phipps.
Mr. Trump flipped the 3rd U.S. Circuit to a majority of GOP-appointed active judges in March.
Since the president’s inauguration, Mr. Trump has appointed a total of 128 federal judges including two to the Supreme Court, 43 to federal circuit courts and 83 judges to district courts.
Judge Phipps’ confirmation Tuesday continues the GOP’s effort to remake the federal bench with a conservative bent.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised the nominee’s record, noting when Judge Phipps was confirmed to a district court judgeship in 2018, he had unanimous bipartisan support.
“This body saw what everybody else had seen, an impressively qualified intellectual individual who understands the job of a judge,” Mr. McConnell said when the chamber began debating the nominee.
But Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. Bob Casey, the judge’s home state senator, who had backed his district court nomination last year, opposed elevating Judge Phipps to a federal appeals seat.
Liberal advocacy groups slammed Republicans for moving forward with the nominee over Mr. Casey’s objection, and complained that Judge Phipps is a white male.
Kristine Lucius, executive vice president with the The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said the judge is the fourth white man the president nominated to the 3rd Circuit.
Her organization complained Mr. Trump has nominated the “least diverse group of nominees in decades.”
“The Senate must stop rubber-stamping this takeover of the courts,” said Ms. Lucius.
During his confirmation hearing, Republican senators took issue with Democrats questioning Judge Phipps about his membership in the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization known for its charity work.
Carrie Severino, chief counsel of the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, said Judge Phipps deserved the promotion over his opposition’s’ “attempts to smear him.”
“Judge Phipps is just the latest nominee targeted by Senate Democrats because of his faith. He is unlikely to be the last,” she said.
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