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PPFA will promote “Crisis in the Courts” with six-figure paid ad campaign 

WASHINGTON — Today, Planned Parenthood Federation of America launched an interactive website, “Crisis in the Courts,” and accompanying six-figure ad campaign, to spread awareness on how the Trump administration and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have remade the federal judiciary over the past four years and how reshaping the federal courts could set back reproductive health and rights for generations. The dynamic and information-rich website allows the user to dive into detail about how Trump and McConnell have worked together to appoint 200 federal judges in record time, the importance of the lower courts in protecting our civil and reproductive rights, and the troubling records of some of the judges the Senate has confirmed. 

This high number of confirmations is a part of the coordinated strategy by state and federal politicians to remake the judiciary branch in order to overturn Roe v. Wade and other important decisions affirming our constitutional rights. In 2019 alone, as the Senate continued to confirm the administration’s judicial nominees, state politicians emboldened by a changing federal judiciary proposed more than 300 bills harmful to reproductive health and rights — enacting 58 abortion restrictions including outright bans on abortion. Without federal judges willing to stand up for sexual and reproductive health and uphold the Constitution, long-established constitutional freedoms, including the right to abortion, are at risk. And the dream of expanding and ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health care for all will be impossible to achieve. This is especially true for racial justice issues impacting Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color, for whom full reproductive freedom has never been realized. The courts are often the only place legislation or policies like these can be stopped.

Statement from Anisha Singh, director, judiciary and democracy affairs:

“Every person who cares about protecting our civil and reproductive rights needs to care about how the Trump administration has remade the federal judiciary over the past four years. The Supreme Court is just the tip of the iceberg—the 200 federal judges who now have lifetime appointments will make decisions in cases that may roll back our health and rights for generations to come. The courts have for far too long been tools to uphold white supremacy and deny power to those without privilege, and it’s important that those who serve on the bench are dedicated to ensuring the freedoms of all. We hope this new website encourages more people to get involved in protecting our democracy and to fight back against the crisis in our courts.”

Here are some keys stats on the Trump’s efforts to reshape the federal judiciary:

  • As of July 16, 2020, the president has appointed 200 federal judges, including more appeals-court judges at this point than any president in recent history. 

    • This administration’s appointments have already tipped the balance of three courts of appeals from Democratic-appointed majorities to Republican-appointed: the 2nd, 3rd, and 11th Circuits.

    • As of July 21, 2020, 23% of judges across the federal appellate and district courts have been appointed by the current administration, including 30% of  appeals-court judges. 

    • In three and a half years, President Trump has appointed 53 appeals-court judges, while President Obama appointed 55 in his eight years in office.

    • During the latter years of the Obama administration, Senate Majority Leader McConnell refused to allow consideration of President Obama’s judicial nominees, delivering more than 100 judicial vacancies to President Trump to fill, including a Supreme Court vacancy for which Judge Merrick Garland was nominated. In President Obama’s last two years, the Senate confirmed judges at the slowest rate in more than half a century, including only 2 circuit judges. 

  • The vast majority of recently appointed judges are members of the conservative Federalist Society, which has served as a pipeline for young, right-wing ideologues to be confirmed to lifetime court seats. 

  • The average age of circuit judges Trump has appointed is less than 50 years old, meaning Trump’s appointees will serve for generations. 

    • 85% of these appointees are white and 76% are men. Trump is on track to be the first president since President Nixon to not nominate a Black candidate for an appeals-court judgeship in his first term. 

  • Since 2017, the Senate has confirmed seven judges who were deemed “not qualified” by the nonpartisan American Bar Association.

  • During 2019 state legislative sessions alone, more than 300 anti-abortion bills were introduced and 58 restrictions were enacted — nearly half of which were abortion bans. 

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Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.