Donald Trump achievements: The courts

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Official presidential photo of President Donald Trump
Main article: Donald Trump achievements
See also: Donald Trump achievements: The courts (2020)

This article is a non-exhaustive list of U.S. President Donald Trump's achievements related to appointing conservative judges and thus influencing court decisions. Liberals themselves have complained about Trump's achievements relating to the courts.[1]

President Trump faced a great opportunity – though not one easily realized[2] – to appoint conservative judges for the over 100 vacancies that existed at the beginning of his term.[3] In addition, changes in the Senate confirmation process in the 2013 and 2017 made it significantly easier to confirm conservative judges to the federal courts.[4] Trump nominated conservative judges to court positions, and was more consistent than any modern president in nominating conservatives and originalists to the judiciary.[5] He had a very successful year in 2017 in nominating and confirming conservative federal judges.[6]

Donald Trump has nominated and filled 53 federal appellate judgeships, and flipped the Second Circuit, Third Circuit, and Eleventh Circuit from majority Democrat-appointed to majority Republican-appointed.[7]

Supreme Court

Amy Coney Barrett nomination

In October 2020, President Trump made history by nominating the first pro-life woman for the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett. There have been other women confirmed for the Supreme Court, and there have been other pro-life justices. But Judge Barrett becomes the first pro-life woman Supreme Court Justice, and that ends the gender card which has been played by pro-aborts for 40 years on that Court.

Judge Barrett shatters other barriers, too. She ends the grip by alumni of the ultra-liberal Harvard and Yale law schools, coming instead from Notre Dame Law School where she was ranked number 1 in her class. Before that she was Phi Beta Kappa at Rhodes College in Tennessee, and ranked number 1 in her English Department there.

The mother of 7 children, one who has Down Syndrome and two others who were adopted from Haiti, Judge Barrett becomes the first Supreme Court Justice to be a mom of school-aged children. That bring a long overdue perspective to the stuffy court which is so out-of-touch with everyday society.

Judge Barrett lives in Indiana, whereas nearly all the other Supreme Court Justices grew up or resided on the East Coast. A Midwestern addition to the Court helps end the control over the Court by the Swamp and the liberal media.

Judge Barrett’s strong values, roots, and family obligations should immunize her against the cultural influences which pulled Justices O’Connor, Souter, Kennedy and now Roberts to the Left.

Brett Kavanaugh nomination

Kavanaugh's swearing-in ceremony as a Supreme Court justice

On June 27, 2018, Justice Anthony Kennedy, considered a moderate and a swing vote, announced he would retire from the Supreme Court,[8] giving President Trump a unique opportunity to reshape the Supreme Court and give it the first reliable conservative majority since 1934.[9] On July 9, 2018, President Trump announced he had nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace Kennedy.[10] Despite facing extremely strong opposition from liberals and Democrats, including unsubstantiated smears against him, the U.S. Senate confirmed Kavanaugh on October 6, 2018, by a vote of 50–48.[11] He was sworn in on the same day,[12] and President Trump ceremonially swore him in on October 8, 2018.[13] In confirming Kavanaugh, conservatives finally achieved a goal – of regaining a strict constructionist majority on the Court – that they had wanted since the 1960s.[14] Immediately into his tenure, Kavanaugh positioned himself as a conservative justice,[15] though analysts noted that he and Gorsuch took opposite positions in various cases.[16]

Neil Gorsuch nomination

President Trump announcing his nomination of Gorsuch, January 31, 2017.
President Trump looks on as Gorsuch is sworn-in.

On January 31, 2017, Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.[17][18] The nomination was well received by many conservatives.[19][20] Others, however, such as Andrew Schlafly, disagreed with the nomination due to concerns about Gorsuch's position on abortion.[21][22] The United States Senate ultimately confirmed Gorsuch by a vote of 54–45, even though the GOP was forced to initiate the nuclear option and lowering the vote threshold to overturn a filibuster for Supreme Court nominees due to Democrat obstructionism.[23] Gorsuch assumed office on April 10, 2017.[24] The appointment and confirmation of Gorsuch within Trump's first 100 days in office was considered a major achievement for Trump.[25] After assuming office, Gorsuch positioned himself as one of the most conservative justices,[26] and his presence on the Court was pivotal in achieving certain conservative legal victories.[27]

Notable Supreme Court cases


Several Supreme Court cases in 2017 advanced conservative and originalist ideals. These cases included a ruling that a government ban on offensive trademarks was unconstitutional,[28] that states could not exclude churches from public aid for secular purposes[29] and affirmed that naturalized citizens could lose their citizenship if they gained it through lying.[30] The Court also denied cert (meaning it refused to hear the case) in Binderup v. Holder regarding gun rights for persons convicted of non-serious misdemeanors, meaning that the court's ruling that people convicted of non-serious misdemeanors would not lose their rights to bear weapons.[31]

The Court partially reinstated President Trump's travel ban pending hearings to be held in October.[32] Additionally, on July 19, 2017, the Supreme Court temporarily allowed the Trump Administration to strictly enforce its refugee admissions under the ban until an appeals court ruled on the matter.[33] On October 24, 2017, the Supreme Court dropped the case, due to it having expired and being moot.[34] In December 2017, the Supreme Court allowed the Trump Administration to fully enforce its third travel ban despite left-wing opposition.[35]

However, the Court made several decisions going against conservative ideals. The Court continued its expansion of the homosexual agenda by striking down an Arkansas law requiring biological parents to be named on birth certificates.[36] Additionally, the Court denied cert on a case on whether the Second Amendment applies to carrying guns outside the home, thus keeping in place a California law requiring a "good reason" to obtain a concealed carry permit.[37] Later in 2017, the Supreme Court refused to hear two cases involving assault weapons bans and open carry, keeping intact the lower courts' decisions favoring strict gun regulations.[38]


The Supreme Court's 2017–18 term was widely described as a good one for conservatives.[39] Among 2018 Court decisions advancing conservative ideals, it ruled that immigrants to the U.S. can be detained indefinitely.[40] In April 2018, the Court overturned an Obama Administration effort to expand overtime pay laws to include certain car dealership employees.[41] In May 2018, the Court strengthened Tenth Amendment protections by striking down a law that prohibited states from enacting laws allowing sports gambling.[42] It also weakened the power of the administrative state by ruling that the Securities and Exchange Commission's hiring of administrative law judges violated the Appointments Clause.[43] Among labor rulings, the conservative majority of the Court narrowly ruled in favor of allowing businesses prevent class action lawsuits against them through their contracts, based on federal law.[44] It also ruled in a 5–4 decision that allowed states to remove inactive voters from its voter rolls in order to help prevent voter fraud.[45] The Supreme Court ruled 5–4 in favor of President Trump's travel ban, a major victory for his administration.[46] In another major ruling, the Court overturned a 1977 precedent by striking down compulsory union dues for government workers.[47]

Regarding abortion, while the Supreme Court did not end the legal battle, it allowed an Arkansas law restricting abortions go into effect by refusing to hear the case.[48] The Court also threw out a lower court opinion that established a "right" to abortion for illegal immigrant minors since the case was moot, though it rejected the Trump Administration's request to punish the pro-abortion attorneys for misleading the court.[49] The Supreme Court also struck down a California law in NIFLA v. Becerra requiring pro-life pregnancy clinics to advertise abortion as an option for women.[50]

The Supreme Court made some mixed rulings. For example, on religious liberty, the Court ruled in favor of a Christian baker who refused to bake a wedding cake for a homosexual couple due to his religious convictions, though it did not rule on the general question of whether people of religious faith can be forced to take part in homosexual weddings against their conscience.[51] However, based on that ruling, the Court later threw out a lower court ruling against a Christian florist and sent it back to the Washington Supreme Court to reconsider.[52] Also, while the Court protected Fourth Amendment rights by ruling that the police need a warrant in order to search a vehicle on private property,[53] and ruled that the police need a warrant to search one's cellphone location records, the latter decision's reasoning was not consistent with the Constitution.[54] While the Court expanded states' rights and weakened the Negative Commerce Clause by ruling that states have the power to collect a sales tax on online retailers, some conservatives criticized the decision for allowing for more taxation power and the nagative effects that come with it.[55] The Supreme Court also killed several left-wing efforts challenging Republican-drawn legislative maps[56] – despite using narrow reasoning – in Wisconsin,[57] North Carolina,[58] and Texas.[59] The Court also protected private property rights by ruling that the Fish and Wildlife Service overreached in its efforts to confiscate land by declaring it "critical habitat" for a frog that did not even live there, though the Court also sent the case back to the lower court to clarify some additional questions.[60]

The Supreme Court, on a 5–4 vote with Justice Gorsuch casting the deciding vote, struck down a federal law making it easier for the government to deport criminal legal immigrants due to the law's vagueness, something that impeded the government's efforts even if the Court's reasoning abided by the Constitution.[61] Additionally, the Supreme Court refused to allow the Trump Administration to enforce a strong asylum policy while the case proceeded through the federal courts.[62]


In the Supreme Court's 2018–2019 term, it made generally conservative rulings though it also disappointed conservatives and originalists in several rulings.[63]

On January 22, 2019, the Supreme Court allowed the Trump Administration's partial ban on transgender troops in the U.S. military to temporarily go into effect pending hearings in lower courts.[64] In another notable ruling, the Court ruled that the Constitution's ban on excessive fines applied to state and local governments.[65] It also allowed a Fifth Circuit ruling to stand that protected pro-life Roman Catholic bishops in Texas from having to release private documents because an abortion clinic demanded it.[66] The Supreme Court ruled that under federal law, international organizations have the same level of immunity as foreign governments as opposed to total immunity from lawsuits.[67] In a 5–4 ruling, the Court ruled in favor of the death penalty, stating that feeling pain during capital punishment does not violate the Eighth Amendment.[68] The court ruled in favor of businesses against class action lawsuits if the workers' contracts do not explicitly state it.[69] The Court upheld state sovereignty, ruling that a state cannot be sued in another state's courts without its consent, and it overturned a 1979 decision stating otherwise.[70] The Supreme Court again ruled in favor of state sovereignty by refusing to rule against an exception to the Double Jeopardy Clause.[71] The Court also protected property rights by overturning an existing 1985 precedent that had banned citizens challenging property seizures by local governments from suing in federal court until they lost a local court case.[72] The Supreme Court protected free speech rights by striking down a statutory provision banning trademarks deemed immoral or scandalous.[73] Importantly, the Court ruled that the federal courts must stay out of political gerrymandering disputes,[74] and later that year, it threw out a lower court ruling against Michigan's gerrymandered districts.[75]

On immigration, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of certain conservative Trump Administration policies,[76] including a ruling that the federal government could detain immigrants with criminal records for deportation anytime after their release from prison, rather than just at the very moment of their release.[77] Additionally, on July 26, 2019, the Court lifted a lower court injunction, allowing the Trump Administration to use $2.5 billion in Defense Department funds to build the wall.[78] On September 11, 2019, the Supreme Court allowed the Trump Administration to fully enforce a rule requiring migrants illegally entering the U.S. southern border to have first requested asylum in a third country before being allowed to request asylum in the U.S.[79]

While avoiding ruling on various abortion and transgender-related decisions, the Supreme Court upheld an Indiana law mandating the burial or cremation of aborted babies to go into effect.[80] In another relatively minor decision, the Supreme Court struck down an Obama Administration Medicare regulation change for violating congressionally-enacted law.[81] In a narrow ruling, the Court ruled in favor of a cross-shaped memorial on public land.[82]

In a relatively negative decision, the Supreme Court refused to rein in the administrative state or strengthen the nondelegation doctrine by upholding a law that ceded much authority to the Justice Department.[83] Additionally, while the case did not exactly revolve around immigration, by ruling that the government needed to prove that an illegal migrant knew that he or she was banned from owning a gun in order to prosecute them, the Court made it harder for the federal government to enforce immigration law.[84] Additionally, while limiting the Auer deference, the Court refused to overturn the pro-administrative state precedent.[85] The Court ruled against states' rights by striking down a Tennessee law regulating alcohol sales.[86] The Supreme Court also blocked President Trump's pro-American immigration agenda when it – with Chief Justice Roberts acting as the swing vote – refused to immediately allow the administration to add a question to the U.S. Census asking the citizenship status of respondents even when it found that the administration had authority to do so, making it extremely difficult for the administration to add the question at best and effectively banning the question at worst.[87] Some conservatives criticized the Court's decision in Mitchell v. Wisconsin for undermining the Fourth and Tenth Amendments.[88]

Number of judicial appointments

Originalist Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas swears-in Mike Pence as Vice President of the United States, January 20, 2017
  • President Trump made major progress on nominating and confirming originalist and textualist judicial nominees in his first year in office.[89] It was reported in July 2017 that President Trump had nominated more judicial nominees by that point in his presidency than Obama and Bush II had done.[90][91] Additionally, while only five total Trump-nominated judges were confirmed by August 1, 2017, President Trump was still ahead of both former presidents.[92] By November 2017, Congress had appointed more judicial nominees than any other president since Richard Nixon at the same period of time into their presidencies.[93] In Trump's first year in office, the U.S. Senate confirmed the most appeals court judges ever in the first year of any president in American history.[94]
  • The U.S. Senate continued confirming a record number of judges in 2018.[95] In July 2018, President Trump broke the record for the most appeals court judges confirmed within his first two years when the Senate confirmed his 23rd nominee.[96] The judges appointed by Trump and confirmed by the Senate wasted no time advancing an originalist and textualist philosophy.[97]
  • In 2019, the U.S. Senate continued confirming solidly-originalist judges nominated by President Trump.[98] On March 13, 2019, the proportion of appeals courts judges nominated by Trump passed 20%,[99] and on November 7, 2019, it surpassed 25%.[100] On March 12, 2019, for the first time in Trump's presidency, President Trump and the U.S. Senate "flipped" a circuit court – the Third Circuit – from having mostly Democrat appointees to Republican appointees,[101] and he flipped the Third Circuit on November 14, 2019.[102] On November 20, 2019, he flipped the Eleventh Circuit to give it a Republican-appointed majority.[103] President Trump also made significant progress in shifting the Ninth Circuit in a conservative direction,[104] and he made a significant impact on the federal courts in Texas.[105] On May 2, 2019, the U.S. Senate confirmed the 100th federal judge nominated by President Trump,[106] and it confirmed the 150th federal judge on September 11, 2019.[107] On December 11, 2019, the Senate confirmed President Trump's 50th circuit court judge.[108] These judges began making a positive impact on the country.[109] On November 6, 2019, President Trump held a White House event celebrating his judicial accomplishments.[110]

Other achievements

President Trump and Justice Thomas, June 2018
  • On March 17, 2017, the Trump Administration notified the American Bar Association – which takes numerous left-wing positions and displays bias against conservatives – that it would end the ABA's role in evaluating judicial nominees before formally nominating them.[111]
  • By 2019, Clarence Thomas, a strongly originalist Supreme Court Justice, had become an influential figure,[112] and by mid-2018, the Trump Administration had hired twenty-two of Thomas's former law clerks for executive branch positions and judgeships.[113]


  2. Horowitz, Daniel; Madden, Nate (February 22, 2017). Trump's plan to remake the courts is tougher than numbers suggest. Conservative Review. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
  3. Multiple references:
  4. Novak, Jake (November 24, 2017). Congress has handed Trump a historic presidential victory. CNBC. Retrieved November 24, 2017.
  5. Multiple references: See also:
  6. Klukowski, Ken (December 30, 2017). Trump’s Historic Success Appointing Federal Judges in 2017. Breitbart News. Retrieved December 30, 2017.
    See also:
  8. Multiple references:
  9. Multiple references:
  10. Multiple references:
  11. Multiple references: See also:
  12. Multiple references:
  13. Multiple references: See also:
  14. Bravin, Jess (October 9, 2018). Conservative-Dominated Supreme Court Fulfills Nixon-Era Dream. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 10, 2018.
    See also:
  15. Multiple references: Articles on Justice Kavanaugh one year into his tenure: See also:
  16. Multiple references: See also:
  17. Klukowski, Ken (January 31, 2017). Trump Nominates Judge Neil Gorsuch to Supreme Court. Breitbart. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  18. Hurley, Lawrence; Holland, Steve (January 31, 2017). Trump picks conservative judge Gorsuch for U.S. Supreme Court. Reuters. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  19. Chamberlain, Steve (January 31, 2017). Conservatives hail Trump's Supreme Court pick. Fox News. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  20. Ertelt, Steven (January 31, 2017). President Donald Trump Nominates Pro-Life-Friendly Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  21. Dannenfelser, Marjorie (January 31, 2017). The Truth about Trump’s Pro-life SCOTUS List. Townhall. Retrieved February 1, 2017.
  22. Template:Mainpageright. Conservapedia. January 24, 2017. Retrieved July 1, 2019.
  23. Multiple references: See also:
  24. Multiple references:
  25. Klukowski, Ken (May 4, 2017). Trump Appointment of Gorsuch an Epic 100-Day Success. Breitbart News. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  26. Multiple references: This perception remained one year in: Later sources discussing this, including sources disputing Gorsuch's conservative record: See also:
  27. Multiple references:
  28. Multiple references:
  29. Multiple references: The ruling emboldened pro-school choice supporters:
  30. Multiple references:
  31. Hawkins, Awr (June 26, 2017). SCOTUS Lets Ruling Stand Protecting Second Amendment Rights Following Non-Serious Misdemeanors. Breitbart News. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  32. Multiple references: Conservatives criticized the fact that it was a partial reinstatement rather than a full reinstatement: The Trump Administration moved to establish a narrow interpretation of the Court's "bona-fide relationship" it mandated when implementing the ban's partial reinstatement: It went into effect on June 29: The Trump Administration made some exceptions to the ban:
  33. Multiple references:
  34. Multiple references:
  35. Multiple references:
  36. Multiple references:
  37. Multiple references:
  38. Multiple references:
  39. Multiple references: See also:
  40. Multiple references:
  41. Multiple references:
  42. Multiple references: See also:
  43. Multiple references:
  44. Multiple references: See also:
  45. Multiple references: See also:
  46. Multiple references: The Supreme Court also overturned the 1944 Korematsu v. United States decision: President Trump's reaction:
  47. Multiple references: The Court also threw out a lower court decision protecting unions from class-action lawsuits due to the Janus decision: See also:
  48. Multiple references: See also:
  49. Multiple references:
  50. Multiple references: For more information about the case: Reaction from pro-life leaders:
  51. Multiple references: More information on how the case was a "narrow" ruling: See also:
  52. Multiple references:
  53. Multiple references:
  54. Multiple references: See also:
  55. Multiple references: For a negative conservative viewpoint on the decision: See also:
  56. Hurley, Lawrence; Chung, Andrew (June 25, 2018). Supreme Court favors Republicans in gerrymandering cases. Reuters. Retrieved June 25, 2018.
  57. Multiple references:
  58. Multiple references:
  59. Multiple references:
  60. Multiple references:
  61. Multiple references: Some conservatives and libertarians, however, viewed the ruling as consistent with originalist and textualist principles: See also:
  62. Multiple references:
  63. Multiple references: See also:
  64. Multiple references: A federal judge lifted an injunction on the policy shortly after the Supreme Court's decision: On March 13, 2019, the Pentagon issued a directive implementing the policy: Thousands of transgender troops were permitted to continue serving under the ban: The last obstacle to implementation was lifted shortly afterward: The policy went into effect on April 12, 2019:
  65. Multiple references: See also:
  66. Multiple references:
  67. Multiple references: See also:
  68. Multiple references: See also:
  69. Multiple references: See also:
  70. Multiple references: See also:
  71. Multiple references: See also:
  72. Multiple references: See also: A similar case decided in 2019:
  73. Multiple references:
  74. Multiple references: See also:
  75. Multiple references:
  76. Rodrigo, Chris Mills (September 14, 2019). Supreme Court comes to Trump's aid on immigration. The Hill. Retrieved September 14, 2019.
  77. Multiple references: See also:
  78. Multiple references: See also:
  79. Multiple references: The Trump Administration moved to implement the rule after the Court's decision: See also:
  80. Multiple references: See also: Regarding the Court's rejection of hearing a transgender case:
  81. Multiple references: See also:
  82. Multiple references: Subsequent Supreme Court actions based on this decision: See also:
  83. Multiple references: See also:
  84. Multiple references: See also:
  85. Multiple references: See also:
  86. Multiple references:
  87. Multiple references: After the ruling, President Trump indicated he would do all he could to get the census question approved: See also:
  88. Wolverton, Joe (July 17, 2019). Supreme Court Case Repeals Fourth and 10th Amendments, Republican Government. The New American. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
    See also:
  89. Multiple references:
  90. Swoyer, Alex (July 13, 2017). Trump makes fifth round of judicial nominations. The Washington Times. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  91. Smith, Allan (July 27, 2017). Trump is quietly moving at a furious pace to secure 'the single most important legacy' of his administration. Business Insider. Retrieved September 8, 2017.
  92. Multiple references: See also:
  93. Multiple references:
  94. Multiple references:
  95. Multiple references: More on President Trump's impact on reshaping the federal courts in 2018:
  96. Multiple references: See also:
  97. Multiple references:
  98. Multiple references: See also:
  99. Gregory, Patrick L. (March 13, 2019). Trump Judicial Strategy Nets a Fifth of Appeals Court Seats (2). Bloomberg Law. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
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  100. Multiple references: See also:
  101. Multiple references: See also:
  102. Multiple references:
  103. Multiple references: See also:
  104. Multiple references: See also:
  105. Multiple references:
  106. Multiple references: See also:
  107. Multiple references:
  108. Multiple references: See also:
  109. Multiple references: Left-wingers, who opposed President Trump's originalist judicial nominees, agreed that the Senate confirmations made a significant impact on the courts: See also:
  110. Multiple references: See also:
  111. Multiple references: See also:
  112. Multiple references: See also:
  113. Multiple references: