During his 1980 campaign, Reagan pledged that he would appoint the first female Supreme Court Justice if given the opportunity. That opportunity came in his first year in office when he nominated Sandra Day O'Connor to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Potter Stewart. In his second term, Reagan elevated William Rehnquist to succeed Warren E. Burger as Chief Justice, and named Antonin Scalia to fill the vacant seat. Reagan nominated conservative jurist Robert Bork to the high court in 1987. Senator Ted Kennedy, a Democrat of Massachusetts, strongly condemned Bork, and great controversy ensued. Bork's nomination was rejected 58–42. Reagan then nominated Douglas Ginsburg, but Ginsburg withdrew his name from consideration after coming under fire for his cannabis use. Anthony Kennedy was eventually confirmed in his place. Along with his three Supreme Court appointments, Reagan appointed 83 judges to the United States courts of appeals, and 290 judges to the United States district courts.
On January 31, Trump nominated U.S. Appeals Court judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the seat on the Supreme Court previous held by Justice Antonin Scalia until his death in 2016.
In 2018, President Donald Trump posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Scalia.
In a 2012 interview, Scalia had said he would prefer Judge Frank H. Easterbrook of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals as his successor. On March 16, 2016, President Barack Obama, a Democrat, nominated Merrick Garland, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to fill Scalia's seat, but the Republican-controlled Senate declined to take any action on the nomination; the nomination expired with the end of the 114th Congress on January 3, 2017. On January 31, 2017, Republican President Donald Trump announced the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to succeed Scalia. Gorsuch was confirmed by the Senate on April 7, 2017.
Antonin Gregory Scalia (March 11, 1936 – February 13, 2016) was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1986 until his death in 2016. Appointed to the Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, Scalia was described as the intellectual anchor for the originalist and textualist position in the Court's conservative wing.
When Ronald Reagan was elected president in November 1980, Scalia hoped for a major position in the new administration. He was interviewed for the position of Solicitor General of the United States, but the position went to Rex E. Lee, to Scalia's great disappointment. Scalia was offered a seat on the Chicago-based United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in early 1982 but declined it, hoping to be appointed to the highly influential United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit). Later that year, Reagan offered Scalia a seat on the D.C. Circuit, which Scalia accepted. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 5, 1982, and was sworn in on August 17, 1982.
Presidential approval polls taken during the first ten months of Trump's term have shown him to be the least popular U.S. president in the history of modern opinion polls. A Pew Research Center global poll conducted in July 2017, found "a median of just 22 percent has confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs". This compares to a median of 64 percent rate of confidence for his predecessor Barack Obama. Trump received a higher rating in only two countries: Russia and Israel. An August 2017 POLITICO/Morning consult poll found on some measures "that majorities of voters have low opinions of his character and competence". By December 2018, Trump's approval ratings, averaged over many polls, stood at roughly 42%, two points below Obama's 44% at the same time in his presidency, and one point above Ronald Reagan. Trump's two-year average Gallup approval rating was the lowest of any president since World War II.
Reagan was raised in a poor family in small towns of northern Illinois. He graduated from Eureka College in 1932 and worked as a sports announcer on several regional radio stations. After moving to California in 1937, he became an actor and starred in a few major productions. Reagan was twice elected President of the Screen Actors Guild—the labor union for actors—where he worked to root out Communist influence. In the 1950s, he moved into television and was a motivational speaker at General Electric factories. Reagan had been a Democrat until 1962, when he became a conservative and switched to the Republican Party. In 1964, Reagan's speech, "A Time for Choosing", supported Barry Goldwater's foundering presidential campaign and earned him national attention as a new conservative spokesman. Building a network of supporters, he was elected Governor of California in 1966. As governor, Reagan raised taxes, turned a state budget deficit to a surplus, challenged the protesters at the University of California, ordered in National Guard troops during a period of protest movements in 1969, and was re-elected in 1970. He twice ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination, in 1968 and 1976. Four years later in 1980, he won the nomination, and then defeated incumbent president Jimmy Carter. At 70 years, 1 day of age at the time of his inauguration, he became the oldest president-elect to take the oath of office (a distinction now held by Donald Trump, since 2017). Reagan faced former vice president Walter Mondale when he ran for re-election in 1984, and defeated him in a landslide with the largest electoral college victory in American history.
Reagan has become an iconic figure in the Republican Party. Praise for his accomplishments were part of the standard GOP rhetoric a quarter century after his retirement. Washington Post reporter Carlos Lozada noted how the main Republican contenders in the 2016 presidential race adopted "standard GOP Gipper worship." The contenders included even Donald Trump, who had previously been skeptical.