President Trump has kept his promise to remake the federal bench, including the Supreme Court

Ledyard King, USA TODAY
·3 min read

One of President Donald Trump's key promises during the 2016 campaign was nominating conservative judges to the nation's highest court. He's delivered resoundingly on that pledge.

With the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to fill the vacancy created by the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Trump has become the first president since Richard Nixon to name three judges to the nation's highest court during a first term.

Barrett joins Neil M. Gorsuch, who was confirmed in 2017 to fill the seat of the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, and Brett M. Kavanaugh, confirmed in 2018 to succeed Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a conservative who often acted as swing vote on the court.

Trump made many promises early on: Which has he kept, which is he still working on?

President Donald Trump announces Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his U.S. Supreme Court nominee on Sept. 18 in Washington.
President Donald Trump announces Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his U.S. Supreme Court nominee on Sept. 18 in Washington.

Senate Republicans gave Trump a crucial talking point in the 2016 campaign when they refused to consider President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the Scalia seat, citing the presidential election about nine months away.

Shortly afterward, candidate Trump released a list of 11 potential Supreme Court nominees, which he later expanded to 21. Gorsuch was on the expanded list, which almost entirely consisted of federal judges and state supreme court justices, all put on the bench by Republicans.

“We have a very clear choice in this election. The freedoms we cherish and the constitutional values and principles our country was founded on are in jeopardy. The responsibility is greater than ever to protect and uphold these freedoms and I will appoint justices, who like Justice Scalia, will protect our liberty with the highest regard for the Constitution," Trump said in a statement at the time. "This list is definitive and I will choose only from it in picking future Justices of the United States Supreme Court."

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GOP strategists and independent analysts say Trump's announcement that he would replace Scalia with a mainstream conservative played an important factor in the whisker-thin victories in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that propelled Trump to the White House.

With Barrett's confirmation, the balance of the court has shifted from four liberals and four conservatives to six conservatives and three liberals.

In addition to the Supreme Court, Trump has named more than 200 judges to district and appellate courts, helping the GOP's efforts to remake the federal bench.

U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 31, 2017, in Washington, D.C.
U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 31, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

While Trump has kept his promise to name conservative judges, Trump's nomination of Barrett was being aided by Senate Republicans who blocked Garland's nomination as they promised not to take up an appointment so close to a presidential election.

"If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump's term, and the primary process has started, we'll wait until the next election," Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said in 2018.

He supported Barrett's confirmation, saying "the rules have changed" due to the contentious Kavanuagh hearings.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Amy Coney Barrett seals Trump campaign pledge to remake Supreme Court