Trump to announce federal court nominees

White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks during the daily press briefing Monday at the White House in Washington

Capitalising on an unusually high number of court vacancies, US President Donald Trump was on Monday set to roll out his first major tranche of judicial nominees in an exercise that will allow him to re-format the federal judiciary.

President Trump is expected to announce his selection of at least five conservative nominees to federal appeals courts as early as Monday, building on his successful nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

Trump's other appellate nominees are equally impressive: attorneys Kevin Newsom for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, John Bush for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit and perhaps most notably Notre Dame law professor Amy Coney Barrett for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

The judicial nominations are the first of several that Trump is expected to announce during his first term as he now faces 129 vacancies in the federal court system.

But liberal groups expressed alarm at the prospect of a federal bench filled with Mr. Trump's appointees.

First among them is the utterly broken process of Supreme Court nominations under President Donald Trump and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, which leaves little doubt that any nominee to replace Justice Kennedy would be intent on demolishing the key pillars of his legacy.

From the left: "The Trump administration has made clear its intention to benefit from Republican obstructionism and to pack the federal courts with ultraconservatives given a stamp of approval by the Federalist Society", says Nan Aron, president of the Alliance for Justice.

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Most Democrats refused to support Gorsuch because they were still seething over the Republican blockade past year of President Barack Obama's pick for the same seat, Merrick Garland. BuzzFeed counts 129 federal court vacancies, accounting for about 14% of such judgeships.

As longtime Court-watcher Linda Greenhouse recently observed, thanks to Trump and McConnell, the Court has been turned into an electoral prize.

"Throughout his career in both the classroom and the courtroom, Justice Stras has displayed a thoughtful, fair-minded approach to the law that has been reflected during his tenure on the Minnesota Supreme Court", said U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, of the Third Congressional District.

Trump is also expected to appoint Justice David R. Stras.