9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt passed away Thursday, opening the door for Trump to nominate the first Conservative judge to the hard-left leaning circuit in a generation.
Judge Stephen Reinhardt was a judge on the liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. He played an essential role in a number of the Circuit’s most liberal rulings, including the 2012 decision to strike down California’s ban on gay marriage.
“All parties agree that Proposition 8 had one effect only,” he wrote in the 2012 decision. “It stripped same-sex couples of the ability they previously had possessed to obtain from the state, or any other authorized party, an important right — the right to obtain and use the designation of ‘marriage’ to describe their relationships. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Reinhardt also played a crucial role in the 9th Circuit’s ‘resistance’ to President Trump’s immigration policies, ruling last year that unaccompanied illegal alien children have a right to periodic bond hearings, meaning that illegal aliens have a right to petition for their release. It is widely known and accepted that the vast majority of illegal aliens released on bond or on a “notice to appear” never appear for their subsequent hearings.
Judge Reinhardt was at a dermatology appointment on Thursday when he passed away suddenly.
Reinhardt was first appointed to the position under President Jimmy Carter, making him one of the longest serving appellate judges. His death now leaves a vacancy on the 9th Circuit, giving President Trump the opportunity to add a true Conservative to the bench there for the first time in a generation.
When President Trump took office, he inherited more than a 100 vacancies in the Federal judiciary. Republicans in Congress had succeeded in blocking then-President Obama from filling the judge positions on his way out the door. Trump mentioned the vacancies in a recent campaign stop in Ohio.
“When I got in, we had over 100 federal judges that weren’t appointed,” Trump the crowd. “I don’t know why Obama left that. It was like a big, beautiful present to all of us. Why the hell did he leave that?”
“Maybe he got complacent,” Trump quipped.
The vacancy serves as a reminder of how Donald Trump’s Presidency can redefine the American judiciary. While most of the focus is usually placed on a President’s Supreme Court appointments, Appeals Court nominations are oftentimes more important because most cases never make it past the Appellate level.