June 5, 2018

Circuit Court Success


  • Senate Republicans have already confirmed 21 circuit court judges since President Trump took office, the most by this point in any presidency over the past 40 years.
  • More than one in every eight active circuit court judges has been appointed by President Trump.
  • Because only a small fraction of cases decided by circuit courts are taken up by the Supreme Court, the makeup of circuit courts has a significant impact on the law.

Senate Republicans continue to work with the Trump administration to confirm qualified judges who rule based on what the law and Constitution require, rather than their policy preferences. Justice Neil Gorsuch, who President Trump appointed to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, is a model of this judicial philosophy. As Justice Gorsuch has written, “a judge who likes every result he reaches is very likely a bad judge, reaching for results he prefers rather than those the law compels.”

Confirming qualified circuit court judges has been a priority of Senate Republicans. President Trump has already appointed 21 out of the 165 active circuit court judges – a bit more than one in eight.

Circuit Court Judges Appointed By President

Circuit Appointed

Senate Republicans have confirmed judges nominated by President Trump to a majority of the 13 circuits. With 20 additional circuit court seats ready to be filled, Senate Republicans have the opportunity to make an even bigger impact on the courts.

Impact on Circuit Courts

Court Makeup

Because the Supreme Court considers only a tiny fraction of cases decided in the U.S. Courts of Appeals, circuit courts, the last stop for a case before the Supreme Court, are critical.

Merits Decisions: Circuit Court versus SCOTUS (June 2016 – June 2017)

Case Workload

Unlike with the circuit courts, the Supreme Court has discretion over which cases it chooses to hear. Although the numbers vary by year, the Supreme Court generally agrees to hear around 100 of more than 7,500 requests for review of lower and state courts’ decisions each year.

Issue Tag: Judiciary