The Organization Judge

23 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2020

See all articles by David T. Zaring

David T. Zaring

University of Pennsylvania - Legal Studies Department

Date Written: September 25, 2020


One of the most alternately celebrated and criticized accomplishments of the Trump administration has been its appellate judicial appointees. In this Essay, I show how President Donald Trump’s appointees follow from, and yet also differ from, the template created by Ronald Reagan, and followed by every president, Democrat or Republican, since. When it comes to credentials, prosecutorial experience, and time spent in legal academia, Trump’s appointees are like those in prior administrations. But they are younger, have spent more time in politics, clerked, are less likely to be sourced from other federal courts, and have spent less time in private practice. I argue that these changes are likely to lead to a less predictable appellate judiciary, and suggest that appointers interested in stable doctrine should choose appellate judges with more private-practice, and less political, experience.

Keywords: Federal Courts, Appointments, Judicial Review

Suggested Citation

Zaring, David T., The Organization Judge (September 25, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

David T. Zaring (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Legal Studies Department ( email )

3730 Walnut Street
Suite 600
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

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