Trump Wins Another Judicial Appointment: Kevin Newsom for the 11th Cir.

By William Vogeler, Esq. on August 04, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

President Trump may be losing some battles in the courts, but he is winning the war in remaking the federal judiciary.

The Senate handily approved the president's latest nominee, Kevin Newsom, for the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. It marks Trump's fifth successful nomination, easily outpacing his recent predecessors in judicial appointments.

Barack Obama had no appointments in his first six months, and George W. Bush had only three in about the same time. The White House said Trump's success is due to political cooperation and "high-caliber nominees."

More to Come

The Senate approved Newsom's nomination largely along party lines, although 16 Democrats sided with the Republicans in the 66-31 vote. Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Diane Feinstein voted for Newsom, but said the White House needs to confer more with individual Senators in the future.

"Many of the current nominees have voluminous records, and we need to allow home-state senators to do their work," she said, flagging a deal that Democrats may vote for more nominees before the August recess.

Trump has about 137 federal court vacancies to fill, and has announced 28 nominees -- seven for the circuit courts and 17 for the district courts. John Malcolm, a legal and judicial studies director at the Heritage Foundation, said there is more to come.

"The president has his work cut out for him, but reshaping the judiciary by appointing constitutionalist judges may well become the defining feature and most lasting legacy of the Trump administration," he told the Washington Times.

Old Some, Newsom

Newsom, a private attorney who previously served as Alabama's solicitor general, clerked for Supreme Court Justice David Souter. He got by the judiciary committee 18-2, despite some questions about his comments on abortion and slavery.

In 2000, Newsom wrote a law review article equating the privacy rationale of Roe v. Wade to Dred Scott, the 1857 decision upholding slavery. Feinstein asked Newsom whether he would apply fundamental privacy rights today.

"Yes of course my personal opinions or views about any decision or doctrine of the Supreme Court are not relevant," Newsom replied.

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