SCOTUS has confirmed new circuit assignments that result in conservative justices having jurisdiction over almost all states key to Trump’s victory.
Following the death of SCOTUS Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September, President Trump appointed Amy Coney Barrett to replace her in the courts. With a new justice in SCOTUS, there also needed to be a reshuffle of the control of the circuit courts.
Each SCOTUS justice presides over one or more of America’s 13 court circuits as a circuit justice. As SCOTUSblog explains:
A circuit justice is primarily responsible for emergency requests (for example, an application to block an execution or to allow it to go forward) from the geographic area covered by his or her circuit, as well as more mundane matters, such as requests to extend filing deadlines. However, justices can and often do refer significant emergency requests to the full court – a role that has taken on increased importance in recent years with the sharp uptick in activity on the court’s “shadow docket.”
SCOTUS’s so-called “shadow docket” for the circuits is especially important in the cases relating to the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, where President Trump and his campaign team are contesting many of the early results in certain key states. Justice Alito granted such an emergency stay on the shadow docket relating to the election in Pennsylvania.
With the late Justice Ginsburg having presided over the busy 2nd Circuit, which includes New York, Vermont and Connecticut, Sonia Sotomayor was tapped to replace her, after Justice Breyer had been serving as a stop-gap appointment. As a result, Sotomayor ceded the 6th and 10th Circuit to Justices Kavanaugh and Gorsuch respectively.
With Kavanaugh now in charge of the 6th Circuit, conservative justices now hold emergency jurisdiction over 4 of the 5 states key to President Trump’s victory. Kavanaugh’s new placement, which gives him jurisdiction over Michigan, is the only partisan switch. Pennsylvania and Georgia remain under the jurisdiction of Justices Alito and Thomas respectively, while Barrett has stepped into replacing Kavanaugh in the 7th Circuit, which includes Wisconsin.
The only disputed state that does not have a conservative justice in charge is Arizona, which falls under the famously liberal 9th Circuit, where Justice Kagan remains in charge.