One of Donald Trump’s central 2016 presidential campaign promises was that he would fill the courts with judges who evoked the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.embed
In the White House Trump has delivered on this, with confirmations of more judges than any president at a comparable stage in history.
Progressive groups, as well as civil rights activists, have opposed many Trump judicial appointees, characterizing them as a decades-long conservative push to dismantle social protections – be they healthcare reforms or equality initiatives.
Lena Zwarensteyn, fair courts campaign director at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said the circuit court appointments were “some of the most extreme judges we’ve ever seen”.
Several judges exemplify this shift, advocates say.
Fifth circuit court of appeals
Eastern, middle district and western districts of Louisiana; northern and southern districts of Mississippi; eastern, northern, southern, and western districts of Texas.
Ho has epitomized Trump’s efforts to reshape the courts, critics say. The Taipei, Taiwan-born Texan, who graduated from Stanford University and then University of Chicago Law School, has written that the present-day government “would be unrecognizable to our Founders” and used the phrase “the moral tragedy of abortion”. He has also complained that the US constitution’s second amendment, which permits an individual to “keep and bear arms,” has been treated as a “second class right”, NPR reported him saying in legal writings.James Ho.
Ho, 47, was among the three judges to strike down Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban in December, but made clear that his ruling had to be based on supreme court precedent – and was not enthused by this requirement. “Nothing in the text or original understanding of the constitution establishes a right to an abortion. Rather, what distinguishes abortion from other matters of health care policy in America – and uniquely removes abortion policy from the democratic process established by our founders – is supreme court precedent,” he wrote.
Ho also said: “Consider how the supreme court has construed the cruel and unusual punishments clause of the eighth amendment to forbid executions of convicted murderers that involve unnecessary pain … use execution methods that avoid causing unnecessary pain to convicted murderers, but does not even permit them from preventing abortions that cause unnecessary pain to unborn babies.”
Elliot Mincberg, a senior fellow at the People For the American Way (PFAW) advocacy group, said: “Ho is among the most radical of the radical Trump judges. He makes clear his far right ideology in his decisions, and always consistency writing dissents on issues that would take law even further to the right.”
Ho’s past work includes clerking for conservative supreme court Justice Clarence Thomas and serving as Texas’ solicitor general, as well as private practice. He also worked for the Department of Justice and US Senate’s subcommittees on the constitution and immigration. Unlike some other Trump judicial appointees, the American Bar Association did rate him as “well qualified,” the Dallas Morning News reported.
District of Columbia circuit court of appeals