As you are no doubt aware, President Trump – at least as I write this – is committed to quickly picking a Supreme Court nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg and accelerating her through the process to a quick appointment.
This is a bad idea. And this is a good idea.
Let’s see why.
It is a bad idea because:
-A Supreme Court appointee – who, if seated, has a lifetime position in the highest court of the land – should be vetted carefully and completely. I don’t see how that can happen in the current abbreviated time frame (a month and a half before the election and four months left to Trump’s term of office). This obviously is of no concern to President Trump.
-Even if Trump is successful in quick-picking a justice, that justice will be forever tainted by the process – certainly among Democrats and pretty clearly among some Republicans as well.
-This procedure flies in the face of what was done four years ago when, in the final year of his term, 11 months before the end of his presidency, President Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court. The same Mitch McConnell who fought that nomination tooth and nail on the grounds that the winner of the election should make the choice, is now saying “sure, let’s do it” for whomever President Trump nominates, just four months before the end of his term/maybe the end of his presidency.
-The fact that McConnell’s flip-flop is controversial, and demonstrably hypocritical, is likely to lose President Trump votes; not among supporters who love him pretty much unconditionally or detractors who hate him just as much, but among independents; the “swingometric” voters whose decisions might be affected by this kind of a move.
OK, that’s the down side. Now for the up side.
It is a good idea because:
-If Trump can get this done; if McConnell can move his selection through the senate and get a majority vote (or a tie, in which case Vice President Pence would cast the deciding vote), he will have replaced a hard line leftist with a judicial conservative. That will hugely change the court in favor of where Trump and Republicans are, both now and for years to come.
-If Trump selects, say Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his nominee, he can argue that she was just vetted and voted on for the Court Of Appeals in 2017 (when she was confirmed by a vote of 55 – 43), so there is little need for an extended process now/a quick vote can legitimately take place.
Further, during the 2017 vetting process, Barrett, who is an observant Catholic, was attacked by several Democrats (Senators Feinstein and Durbin come to mind) based on her religion. If that happens again – or even if it doesn’t, but voters are reminded of it – Trump is likely to benefit from increased support from offended Catholic voters.
-Then there is the fact that Barrett, who has seven children, including two adopted children from Haiti and a special needs child, is pretty obviously impervious to accusations of racism and of insensitivity to disadvantaged children – two frequent attack lines used by Democrats against Republicans.
-And if President Trump, instead, goes with Judge Barbara Lagoa – currently a member of the Florida Supreme Court – whose parents came to this country fleeing castro’s Cuba, Trump is not only likely to gain votes in this key battleground state, but probably will gain Latino votes in other states as well.
So, there they are. The good and the bad (feel free to add in additional good and bad points as you see fit).
Now, what does it all mean? What does it tell us?
Personally, it tells me that Trump’s effort to try and rush this Supreme Court selection through is a bad idea. I believe the negatives listed above appreciably outweigh the positives.
But, again, that’s just me. How about you?