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Vox Sentences: Trump is still remaking the judiciary

Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

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Another Trump judicial nominee makes the court; students join France’s Yellow Vest protests.

Pence breaks another tie

Jonathan Kobes Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
  • The Senate voted to confirm Jonathan Kobes to a federal appeals court on Tuesday, the sixth nominee to be confirmed even though the American Bar Association had deemed him unqualified. [NYT / Catie Edmondson]
  • President Trump has been remarkably successful at reshaping the judiciary, appointing a larger-than-usual group of young nominees who are hardline conservatives and now have lifetime appointments to the federal bench in lower courts. [Rolling Stone / Andy Kroll]
  • Most of those nominees, at least through August, replaced retiring judges who were appointed by Republican presidents — but Trump was still replacing older, perhaps moderate judges with younger, more conservative ones. [Brookings / Russell Wheeler]
  • Some Republicans are starting to occasionally push back against President Trump’s nominees. Most notably: Sen. Jeff Flake, who voted against Kobes, has said he will vote no on every nominee until the Senate votes on a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller. [Vox / Li Zhou]
  • The American Bar Association said that Kobes, 44, the general counsel for Sen. Mike Rounds, didn’t have the experience for the job and that he couldn’t provide writing samples demonstrating he could perform at a high level of scholarship on the federal bench. [HuffPost / Jennifer Bendery]
  • Still, 50 senators voted in his favor, and Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie. [Courthouse News Service / Tim Ryan]

French students put on the yellow vest

  • French President Emmanuel Macron has tried to quell the gilets jaunes, or “yellow vest,” protests against his administration — but instead, they’re growing, with students now joining the movement. [CBS News / Tucker Reals]
  • The protests — named for the yellow vests that French drivers are required to carry — started in mid-November as a pushback against proposed fuel tax increases, but they’ve spread to become diffuse protests against Macron’s presidency. [New Yorker / Lauren Collins]
  • The high school students who joined the “Black Tuesday” demonstrations were protesting Macron’s changes to education, including policy changes they say will widen the gap between rich schools and poor ones. [France24]
  • Meanwhile, Egypt, apparently afraid that the trend will spread as the anniversary of the 2011 Arab Spring protests approaches, has restricted the sale of yellow vests to “verified companies that have gained police approval” and asked store owners to report anyone trying to buy them. [BBC]


  • Your new introvert icon is Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating the Trump-Russia scandal, who flickers the lights when he decides he’s had enough and the party is over. [Time / Brian Bennett and Tessa Berenson]
  • The IRS’s budget and staff have been cut so dramatically that the agency is essentially on life support — and corporations and the wealthy, who are audited at a much lower rate than they used to be, are benefiting. [ProPublica / Paul Kiel and Jesse Eisinger]
  • The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s principal flutist, a woman, makes $70,000 per year less than the principal oboist, a man — and she’s suing. [Washington Post / Geoff Edgers]
  • Students in Anchorage, Alaska, went back to school on Monday for the first time since a November 30 earthquake, even as aftershocks continued to shake residents, literally and figuratively. [NYT / Kirk Johnson]


“It goes to show you: you get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you.” [Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi to House Democrats after she and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer met with President Trump / via CBS News’s Ed O’Keefe]

Watch this: Why Shakira loves this African beat

Colombia’s folk beat has African roots. [YouTube / Christina Thornell and Johnny Harris]

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