Trump will get to pick his second Justice in as many years.
The first Justice he replaced was the vacated seat of the late Antonin Scalia. This was controversial because Republicans held the seat hostage in 2016 for many months leading up to the November election. Left-leaning Judge Merrick Garland, who Obama nominated, should had filled the seat. The unprecedented posturing committed by Republicans in 2016 furthered the divisiveness in Washington.
Trump gets to fill his second seat in as many years now that Justice Kennedy has announced his retirement. Kennedy, appointed by Reagan, and evolved into the ‘swing-vote’ on the High Court. This was something he did not like. He, himself, felt he was a strict interpreter of the constitution. No more, no less. Kennedy had hoped to retire during a Republican term. He felt that since a Republican had appointed him to his seat, a Republican would be granted the right to replace it.
The vacancy comes with a new chapter in Supreme Court controversy. Democrats, are still hostile towards Republicans for blocking the Obama appointee. This anger has basis. Republicans attempt to prove their argument as poor timing of the solid right leaning Scalia and his death. They unjustly claimed that since he unexpectedly died during an election year, the vacancy should stay until a new President was picked by the electorate. Funny thing is; he died in February. This was nine-months before the election! They made it a campaign issue in 16′, and it was a political gamble that paid off for them. The Scalia seat would have been a shift in power on the courts. It would have granted Obama and the Democrats the opportunity to replace a right-leaning Justice with a left-leaning one. It was a large moment that cannot be overlooked for many reasons.
Today, Trump finds himself in a place to shift the power of the Court solidly in the favor of Conservatives. He will take a swing-voter and replace his seat with yet another right-leaning Justice. This will make the Court solidly in favor of the right for decades. The significance this moment means for the country cannot be overstated.
It also has deeper repercussions for Liberals on the High Court because the two oldest Justices are solid-left leaning. It is incredibly unlikely they last through a second Trump term, and it is possible one of the two has to retire by this time next year. Left leaning Ginsburg is 85, and is likely unable to make it through the end of Trump’s first term. Left leaning Breyer is 79, and unlikely to make it through a potential second-term of Trump.
This matters to our country for a variety of reasons
- Conservatives have the potential to take the power of the Liberals away in the courts. This is one-third of our government. It has essentially been lost for Liberals
- The future strategy and platform of Democrats will have to change because of this. The battles in America politically are waged in three branches. With one branch being out of reach for the left, the strategy and efforts need to intensify and change
- Policy suggestions will come from this that we’ve not heard before.
- Possible things we may hear will be term limits, forced retirement, and the removal of Justices.
It has been a few days since the news that sent shock waves through DC and the country. The thing is, it is deeply unfair for Democrats that this is the result of games Republicans played during Scalia. It changes our history and substantially changes the balance in our Highest Court from moderate to conservative. The courts and electoral college, coupled with gerrymandering will give Republicans much power for many years.
It is worrisome. Whether you stand with or against the Republicans, this is heading in a path of sweeping power by one ideology the likes of which we haven’t seen since Progressives during FDR and the New Deal in the aftermath of The Great Depression. The fabric of our nation will change drastically. It may just be beginning. One wrinkle can drastically alter the course, but for now it certainly heads right.
Let’s hope for positive results from this moment. Democrats have no choice but alter strategy. Let’s hope the part they chose is an economic unifying message that voters in light red states can rally behind. Let’s also hope for a discussion on term limits in this country, and not just limited to the High Court. Trump said he wanted to restrict Senators and Congressmen from unlimited terms.
The left may work a compromise out by requiring term limits for Justices by adding term limits for Congress and Senate in return.
We can only hope.
We will see, but the news from last week is the most significant moment in Trumps presidency to date.