FIRST AIRED: September 20, 2018

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00:00:01
>> While the focus has been on the highest court in the land, President Donald Trump has been busy remaking the federal courts just below the Supreme Court. Keeping his campaign promise to name staunch conservatives to the nation's influential appeals courts.>> We're going to have a conservative, very good group of judges.
00:00:21
>> With the help of the Republican led Senate, Trump has so far placed 26 judges on the federal appeals bench. More than any other President in his first two years. Those judges serving for life, shaping the legal landscape for decades to come. Reporter Lawrence Hurley is on the story.
00:00:39
>> Trump's had a lot of vacancies to fill. Partly because the Senate Republicans kept a lot of these seats open towards the end of President Barack Obama's presidency. So he came into office with lots of vacancies, and then he's rapidly filling these vacancies with conservative judges. Judges who will be kind of hostile to kind of liberal arguments in court.
00:00:59
>> That shift, hailed by Republicans, worries Democrats. Because the nation's 13 federal appeals courts are usually the last stop for deciding key cases.>> Not very many cases go all the way to the Supreme Court, so the regional appeals courts have an outsized influence. Trump is replacing a lot of liberal-leaning judges with more conservative judges.
00:01:22
That will tilt the courts, in general, to the right. And it means the outcomes of the cases are likely to be different on a wide range of hot button social issues. Whether it be gay rights or gun rights, voting rights, all kinds of things that the appeals courts often have the final word on.
00:01:39
>> But in come cases, flipping federal courts to the right won't be easy. For example, the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, which remains solidly in liberal hands.>> Nothing's as bad as the Ninth Circuit.>> Trump and other conservatives have repeatedly slammed the Ninth Circuit.
00:01:56
Like when it blocked Trump's ban on people entering the United States from some Muslim-majority countries.>> It's really sad when every single case filed against us is in the Ninth Circuit. It's a very, very sad thing.>> But with more vacancies to fill, Trump looks set to make more headway toward tipping the overall balance in Republican's favor.