Trump reveals theocratic agenda for judiciary

Our Courts

On the eve of the National Day of Prayer, President Trump told an audience at a dinner on Wednesday that he’s “breaking records” with his federal judges.

“We're going to be breaking records with respect to the judiciary, which means a lot to the people in this room because you were treated very poorly. ... I think it's something that was long overdue and I think we're going to be treated very very fairly, very important.” 

As prolix and careless as Trump can often be, he was more careful here, but everyone in the audience — and all of us here at the Freedom From Religion Foundation — know what Trump means: Trump’s judicial picks will work to redefine religious freedom as a license to discriminate. Trump’s appointments will preserve Christian privilege. Trump’s judges will toe the Christian nationalist line. That’s what Trump means: not very, very fair treatment but special treatment.

“This kind of wink-and-nod rhetoric calls into question the objectivity of the entire federal judiciary,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Trump is known for demanding personal loyalty, but our judiciary must be loyal to one authority alone: the U.S. Constitution and its secular principles.”

Trump also bragged at the Wednesday event that the Senate will be confirming his 100th judicial appointment today. That’s why the federal judiciary is in serious trouble. Trump is flooding the courts with nominees who he thinks will favor evangelical Christians. His second Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, was “a blow to the moral authority of the Supreme Court,” as Adam Liptak of the New York Times says.

As of January, five of the 12 circuit courts are made up of more than 25 percent Trump-appointed judges. The Washington Post reported in February that Trump has installed a historic number of federal appeals court judges. There are more than 100 vacancies at the U.S. district court level, and 60 of the current 167 circuit judges are eligible for “senior status,” which could give Trump even more opportunity to take over the judiciary. Presidents and members of Congress come and go, but federal judges and Supreme Court justices are appointed for a lifetime. The legacy of Trump’s appointments could last into two generations.

FFRF has worked to stop some of the worst nominees, including Jeff Mateer. We’ve seen some success, but not nearly enough. We need more members and more support, and we need this today.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

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