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Judge Nelson Diaz. Photo: Samantha Madera

Trump triumphs in court – dangers ahead for all

Yes, President Trump floundered badly during his recent European trip where he alienated American allies and eagerly embraced Russian leader Putin.

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However domestically, an under-examined element of Trump’s agenda has barreled ahead with dangerous implications for the future of Philadelphia and America.

That element is Trump’s deliberate and devious stacking of the federal judiciary with staunch conservatives.

That element has driven two respected legal experts in Philadelphia to warn of dire times ahead for minorities regarding fundamental rights secured through decades of struggles inclusive of favorable rulings in federal courts upholding those rights.

“For young folks it will be swimming upstream with a lot of roadblocks,” former Philadelphia judge Nelson Diaz said.

Looking at a future where Trump installed federal judges render rulings on critical issues, Diaz, the first Latino lawyer and first Latino judge in Pennsylvania, said, “The legal system will not provide the opportunities that we enjoyed.”

Trump’s judicial picks are eroding the already limited racial and gender diversity on the federal bench where only 70 of the 723 federal judges are Latino.

A review at the end of April 2018 of Trump’s judicial nominees confirmed by the U.S. Senate found no Latinos, African-Americans and Native Americans. Thirty of the 33 confirmed jurists were white with three of Asian ancestry.

University of Pennsylvania professor Mary Frances Berry, the noted author and respected legal scholar, said Trump judges from federal district courts up to the U.S. Supreme Court will certainly make it harder for non-whites to win employment discrimination lawsuits and gain admissions to elite higher education institutions.

“They will do changes politely and in very sophisticated ways,” Berry, the first black female to chair the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, said.

Despite Trump bigotry, Dr. Berry doesn’t think things in America are “going back to the 1930s” when racism was blatantly sanctioned by law.

President Trump’s overwhelmingly white and male nominees for lifetime federal judgeships share his attitude of hostility toward respecting the rights of those historically blocked from equitable access to pursue the vaulted American Dream.

Like Trump, his judicial nominees (many rated unqualified by legal experts) blithely dismiss evidence that racial discrimination is a debilitating reality for non-whites and poor whites.

Who holds federal judgeships is not an esoteric subject.

The conservative lawyer from Western Pennsylvania Trump nominated for a seat on the Third Circuit Federal Appeals Court headquartered in Philadelphia awaits approval from Senate Republicans.

That lawyer’s resume includes co-founding an organization that actively opposed the elevation of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court where that nominee of President Obama became America’s first high court justice of Hispanic descent.

Recently bipartisan objection to a Trump nominee to serve on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals forced the White House to withdraw that nomination. That nominee had attempted to cover-up his past writings that were racist, misogynistic and disparaging of survivors of sexual abuse.

Justice Sotomayor once called the lack of race and gender diversity on the federal bench “a huge danger to American society.”

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