Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Imagine A Trump Supreme Court If You Dare


During a speech Sunday night at his Mar-a-Largo club in Palm Beach, Don Trump told the assorted sycophants in attendance that he's going to have someone-- far right crackpot Jim DeMint, it later turned out-- put a list of 5-10 judges together for him "and those are going to be the judges that I’m going to put in" [for Supreme Court nominations]. "It will be one of those judges, and I will guarantee it personally, like we do in the world of business, which we don’t like to do too often. But I will guarantee it that those are going to be the first judges that I put up for nomination if I win. And that should solve the problem, and I think that’s a good idea, right?" Sure, Don Trump! He also promised that if he's elected he'll start "acting presidential." His wife and kids have been bothering him to, he said.

Rob Portman is an undistinguished, white bread senator from Ohio who has vowed to block President Obama's conservative Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. He wrote an OpEd over the weekend trying to justify his hyper-partisan obstructionism, an awkward place to be in for a guy who pretends to be a purple state moderate, and grudgingly agreed to meet with Garland, the way a child agrees to eat his spinach so he is allowed to stay up and watch TV. Portman, after all, knows how to read polls, like this one by ABC News and this one by CNN or the one below from NBC News. All show over 60% of Americans want the Senate to hold hearing on the Supreme Court nomination now, not after a new president is sworn in in January of 2017. Yesterday a new poll from Monmouth found that 77% of Americans (including 62% of Republicans) think the Senate GOP leaders are "playing politics" with the nomination. That doesn't matter for senators like McConnell-- who came up with the strategy and who is not up for reelection this cycle-- but it could kill Republican reelection bids for Republicans like Portman (as well as Kelly Ayotte, Roy Blunt, Ron Johnson, Mark Kirk, Pat Toomey, and Chuck Grassley).

Another conservative Republican, George Will, also wrote an OpEd over the weekend and he dug into the queastion-- or at least half the question-- many Republicans are asking themselves... or should be. Merrick Garland is the most right wing nominee from a Democratic president in living memory. Republican senators know him and like him. Does someone think Trump (or Hillary or Bernie) is likely to make a more palatable nomination? He called McConnell's and Grassley's response to the nomination "incoherent," "a contradictory tossed salad of situational ethics," and "a partisan reflex in search of a justifying principle... radiating insincerity."
Republicans who vow to deny Garland a hearing and who pledge to support Donald Trump if he is their party’s nominee are saying: Democracy somehow requires that this vacancy on a non-majoritarian institution must be filled only after voters have had their say through the election of the next president. And constitutional values will be served if the vacancy is filled not by Garland but by someone chosen by President Trump, a stupendously uninformed dilettante who thinks judges “sign” what he refers to as “bills.” There is every reason to think that Trump understands none of the issues pertinent to the Supreme Court’s role in the American regime, and there is no reason to doubt that he would bring to the selection of justices what he brings to all matters-- arrogance leavened by frivolousness.

Trump’s multiplying Republican apologists do not deny the self-evident-- that he is as clueless regarding everything as he is about the nuclear triad. These invertebrate Republicans assume that as president he would surround himself with people unlike himself-- wise and temperate advisers. So, we should wager everything on the hope that the man who says his “number one” foreign policy adviser is “myself” (because “I have a very good brain”) will succumb to humility and rely on people who actually know things. If Republicans really think that either their front-runner or the Democrats’ would nominate someone superior to Garland, it would be amusing to hear them try to explain why they do.

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