During this presidential election, we will likely hear pundits talking about flipping courts. Will a reelected President Trump continue flipping courts, or will a President Biden be able to flip courts back?
When Trump took office, Democratic appointees had a majority in nine circuit courts. By contrast, Republican appointees only had a majority in four circuit courts. It is also worth mentioning that judges appointed by a Republican president don’t always render a conservative opinion, while nearly all judges appointed by a Democratic president do render a liberal opinion.
In the last few years, President Trump has managed to flip three more circuit courts. Those would be the Third Circuit Court (Delaware New Jersey, and Pennsylvania), the Eleventh Circuit Court (Alabama, Florida, and Georgia) and the Second Circuit Court (New York, Connecticut, and Vermont).
If President Trump is reelected, it is likely that he would be able to appoint judges that would eventually flip other circuit courts. That would include the Fourth Circuit Court (Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and the Carolinas) and the Ninth Circuit Court (California and other western states).
It is likely that many judges are waiting to see how the election turns out before deciding whether they might take senior status and retire. This allows judges to retire with their current salary which they receive even if they join a law firm for an additional salary.
A President Biden along with a Vice-President Harris would want to flip these circuit courts back to where they were when President Obama left office. They would want to push through nominees that would be very different from the ones put forward by the Trump Administration in the last few years.
The most lasting legacy of a president is who he puts on the court. This presidential election will determine which way these courts flip.