Number of Republican-majority federal circuit courts has doubled in Trump administration

Since Donald Trump (R) took office in January 2017, he has appointed 52 judges to the 13 federal circuit courts. At the time of his inauguration, a majority of members on four of those courts were appointed by Republican presidents. Before the 2020 election, a majority of members on eight of those courts were appointed by Republican presidents.

In January 2017, there were 90 circuit court judges appointed by Democrats, 74 appointed by Republicans, and 14 vacancies. In November 2020, there were 80 circuit court judges appointed by Democrats, 97 appointed by Republicans, and one vacancy.

Five circuit courts did not flip from majority Democratic-appointed to majority Republican-appointed, all but one kept the same partisan balance. The Ninth Circuit went from an 18-9 Democratic-appointed majority before Trump took office to a 16-13 Democratic-appointed majority split (with no vacancies). The other four are the First, Tenth, D.C, and Federal Circuits.

The Republican-appointed majority in the four circuit courts that were majority Republican-appointed when Trump took office all increased those majorities. The Fifth Circuit moved from R+5 to R+7, the Sixth Circuit from R+5 to R+6, the Seventh Circuit from R+2 to R+6, and the Eighth Circuit from R+6 to R+9.

Trump has made the most appointments (10) to the Ninth Circuit. He has six appointments each to the Fifth, Sixth, and Eleventh Circuits. The only circuits without a Trump appointee as of November 2020 were the First Circuit and the Federal Circuit.




About the author

Joel Williams

Joel Williams is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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