Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Steve Flowers: Inside the Statehouse: New federal judges in Alabama

  Regardless of what happens in Donald Trump’s administration over the next two years, he will have a proven record of success as president, especially if you are a conservative American.

  One of, if not the most important accomplishment of any president is the opportunity to appoint a United States Supreme Court Justice. Folks, Trump has appointed and gotten confirmed two members of the Supreme Court in two years. This is a remarkable achievement. Justices Neal Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh will have an immense impact on American laws and values for more than likely over two decades, long after Donald Trump is dead and gone. Both Gorsuch and Kavanaugh are young, in their early 50s, and will be a part of many landmark rulings that will profoundly affect American public policy.

  Trump’s selections are exceptionally groomed and scripted to be outstanding Justices. They are considered mainstream, moderate conservatives with the perfect educational and judicial background and experience.

  Kavanaugh’s confirmation was more controversial because his choice is a pivotal swing vote on the Court that tilts the Court to a conservative majority. Gorsuch was an even swap, a conservative for a conservative. He replaced conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.

  Kavanaugh’s appointment was critical. The liberal Democrats had to go to the wall and declare all-out war by whatever means to derail and delay the Kavanaugh confirmation. The Court swung to becoming a conservative tribunal with Kavanaugh. The Court had four liberals and four conservatives. Kavanaugh replaced the swing vote on the Court, Anthony Kennedy. Therefore, the Court is now five conservatives to four liberals. Make no doubt about it, the confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice is very political.

  In today’s extremely partisan politics, lines are drawn and there are no prisoners kept. Both sides go for the jugular vein. Therefore, the only way Trump was successful in placing two conservative justices is because he has a Republican majority Senate with some very adroit veteran GOP Senate leaders like Mitch McConnell, Chuck Grassley, and Richard Shelby paving the way.

  Speaking of our senior U.S. Senator, Richard Shelby, he has masterminded and orchestrated a legendary coup of his own when it comes to our federal judges in Alabama.

  In conjunction with the Trump administration, Shelby has placed six new federal judges in Alabama, all young and conservative. This Shelby/Trump triumph has secured a two- to three-decade dominance of conservative federal judges in the Heart of Dixie.

  During the Obama years, at least six federal judgeships became vacant in Alabama. President Obama appointed replacements, but Senator Shelby and our former U.S. Senator, Jeff Sessions, sat on them and refused to allow them to be confirmed. These seats have remained vacant due to partisan gamesmanship. Shelby and Sessions were hoping that a day would come when there would be a Republican president and they could place these lifetime appointments in conservative hands.

  Senator Shelby and his former chief of staff (and now Business Council of Alabama president) Katie Britt, spent the entire year of 2018 interviewing, vetting, and selecting these judges to assure that they were young, conservative, qualified, and confirmable.

  They have indeed accomplished this lifetime feat for Alabama. Liles Burke and Anne Marie Axon are the two new judges for the Northern District. Emily Marks and Andrew Brasher will join conservative Chief Judge William Keith Watkins in the Middle District. The Southern District will have two new Trump-Shelby appointees in Terry Moorer and Jeffrey Beaverstock.

  Senator Richard Shelby has further enhanced his legacy for decades to come and has placed an indelible stamp on the federal judiciary in Alabama with these judicial appointees.

  About the author: Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at He can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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