DC appeals court judge to retire, handing Trump key vacancy
Judge Thomas Griffith on Thursday announced plans to retire from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, handing President Trump his third vacancy on the influential bench.
Griffith is set to retire in September, just two months ahead of the 2020 election, as politics intensify the focus on Trump’s conservative makeover of the federal courts.
The judge, a George W. Bush appointee and 15-year veteran of the D.C. Circuit, made headlines last week when he ruled against House Democratic lawmakers who sought to enforce a subpoena against a former Trump aide.
In a 2-1 opinion, Griffith ruled that courts were powerless to intervene in a House lawsuit to compel testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn over Trump’s objections. If his ruling stands, it would establish a favorable precedent for future White House efforts to avoid congressional oversight.
However, Griffith also cast a vote against Trump when the president asked the court to reconsider a ruling that paved the way for Democrats to obtain his financial records.
The 65-year-old judge’s pending departure will mark the third vacancy for Trump to fill on the D.C. Circuit, which is sometimes referred to as “the second most important court” after the U.S. Supreme Court — where a disproportionate number of D.C. Circuit judges eventually land.
Trump’s appointment of judges has been a selling point for him among conservatives as he has broken records by placing 51 judges on the country’s 13 federal circuit courts, in addition to two Supreme Court picks. A pair Trump nominees — Judges Gregory Katsas and Neomi Rao — currently sit on the D.C. Circuit.
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