More senators have voted against confirming President Donald Trump’s nominees for federal courts, on average, than those of any other recent president, according to an analysis from the Pew Research Center published Wednesday.
The Senate has confirmed 29 of Trump’s appointees to the bench, including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and 14 judges for the powerful appellate courts. The Pew analysis, based on data from the Federal Judicial Center and the Senate, said there have been a total of 654 “no” votes cast on the floor of the Senate against those 29 nominees. That means an average of nearly 23 votes against each confirmed judge.
That’s “by far the highest average for any president’s judges since the Senate expanded to its current 100 members in 1959,” the report said. All of the votes against Trump’s judges came from Democrats or independents who caucus with Democrats, except for one vote from Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, against the nomination of Gregory Katsas to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Trump has made reshaping the federal bench a cornerstone of his presidential agenda. The president is still early on in this endeavor: President Barack Obama appointed 330 judges to the bench in his tenure, and President George W. Bush appointed 328. However, last year, the Senate confirmed a dozen of Trump’s nominees for appellate courts, setting a record for the most ever in the first year of a presidency.
The average “no” votes against nominees have increased over time: Obama’s judges faced an average of six votes against them, George W. Bush’s had an average of two, and President Bill Clinton’s had an average of a little more than one.
Go back in time a bit further, and the opposition shrinks further. Of President John F. Kennedy’s nominees, only one received any “no” votes: Thurgood Marshall, in his 1962 confirmation to the Second Circuit.
The analysis also noted that the success rate for judicial nominees has wavered over the past few decades. While 99 percent of Kennedy’s picks were confirmed, only 78 percent of George H.W. Bush’s were. Obama had an 83 percent success rate.
“It’s too early to measure Trump’s success rate in any meaningful way,” the analysis said, though it pointed out that at least three of Trump’s nominees have withdrawn from consideration in the wake of controversy. Those include Middle District of Alabama nominee Brett Talley, District of Columbia nominee Matthew Petersen and Eastern District of Texas nominee Jeff Mateer.