President Donald Trump broke the all-time record on first-year judicial appointments to the federal appeals courts on Thursday, as the Senate confirmed James Ho to the U.S. Court of Appeals to the Fifth Circuit, a nominee notable as a racial minority who is outspoken on the importance of constitutional conservatism.Senators voted 53-43 to confirm Ho of the Fifth Circuit, which has jurisdiction over Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Democrats voted overwhelming against Ho, as they have done for all of President Trump’s nominees to the appeals courts.
Unlike some judicial nominees, Ho is assertive and unapologetic about his adherence to originalism—the judicial philosophy that the Constitution must always be interpreted according to the original public meaning of its words. When senators asked him if he was an originalist, instead of the verbal tap-dance many nominees do to avoid that hot-button term, he answered bluntly, “Yes, I am an originalist.”
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