Since Trump was anointed the presumptive nominee by the very establishment he’s railed against from day 1, #NeverTrump conservatives and Trumpsters have continued their debate about whether or not never voting for Trump is handing the election to Hillary.
I’ve heard all of the arguments on both sides of this debate, but it seems Trumpsters have lost almost all of them and have now focused in on what is, in my opinion, the last remaining legitimate argument they can make for voting for Trump.
The argument is simple: If I vote for a 3rd party candidate, it takes a vote away from Trump and hands Hillary the election, who will then appoint up to three Supreme Court justices, all of whom will be radical liberals. On the other hand, if Trump wins the presidency, he’s already promised he’ll nominate conservatives justices, and thus we’d have a conservative majority on the Supreme Court for a generation.
On its face this seems like a bulletproof argument, but on further inspection, it’s filled with holes.
The right question to ask isn’t “Will Trump appoint conservative Supreme Court justices?” The more relevant and important question is, “Will he be able to?”
The answer is likely no. If he wins the election, which is highly unlikely, it’s very likely the Republicans will lose the Senate and probably the House as well do to depressed turnout of the conservative base. If that happens, the Democrats’ base will be fired up and will put enormous pressure on Democrats in Congress to block any nominee Trump puts forward who isn’t liberal. They’ll already be angry that Hillary lost, and even more angry that Trump is now President. They’ll want revenge, and the first way they’ll get it is to block his Supreme Court nominees.
If the Democrats could block Justice Bork, a highly qualified judge and nominee, and who was nominated by President Reagan, a respectable and very popular president, does anyone seriously think they wouldn’t go all out to block Trump’s nominees? They’ll have even more incentive after Republicans blocked Obama’s nominee for all the months leading up to the election.
The next question that arises from all this is, “How will Trump respond to this challenge?”
Throughout his life, Trump responds to threats and/or challenges typically in one of two ways: He either threatens a lawsuit, or he cuts a deal with the challenger.
Since he won’t be able to do the former, he’ll only have one option, which is to cut a deal. If you think about it, you can already imagine what a deal between the Democrats and Trump would be like.
They’d meet at the White House, and Chuck Schumer would make it clear to Trump that they hold all the bargaining chips and leverage in this game, so he has to give them what they want, and he can get something in return.
They’ll demand that he nominate a moderate Supreme Court justice who won’t overturn Roe v Wade and who is unpredictable on other important issues like gun rights and religious freedom, and in exchange for that, they’ll give him the votes to pass legislation to build a wall, or renegotiate a trade deal, probably the latter since it’s less controversial.
Trump, wanting to be liked, not wanting to use up his political capital so early in his first term, and desiring to retain his reputation as a great deal-maker, will take the deal.
He’ll spin it as a victory on two fronts:
1)He’ll pretend the judge he nominates is conservative, even though his or her record will be mixed, or almost nonexistent at best, much like John Roberts and Anthony Kennedy before him, who were both nominated by Republican Presidents. His spokesperson will give examples of cases were that judge sided with conservatives, while ignoring cases where he sided with liberals.
2)He’ll say no matter where his nominee lines up ideologically, it doesn’t matter because what’s more important is that he got what he wanted on trade, immigration, or whatever bone the Democrats decided to throw to him. He knows this will work with his base because most Trumpsters really don’t care that much about religious/social issues, including abortion, even the ones who pretend to.
They do care about banning muslims, stopping immigration, and screwing the Chinese in trade, and Trump will make sure to get at least one of those things accomplished in this deal, so he can wave it around and tell his cult followers to look at the shiny object over here, while he sells out true conservatives with his Supreme Court nominee.
For anyone who disagrees with this analysis, you’ll have to convince me of three things:
1)That Democrats won’t win at least the Senate and probably the House, thus guaranteeing the ability to block a President Trump’s nominees, not just for the Supreme Court, but for any high level position.
2)That if the Democrats did control Congress, for some reason they wouldn’t fight Trump’s nominees every step of the way until he blinks and gives them what they want.
3)That the GOP establishment won’t sell us out again. To me this is probably the hardest sell, because with a President Trump, and being in the minority, the GOPe would have even less incentive to put up a fight against Democrats for fear of being blamed for nothing getting done in Congress. If Trump even put up a tiny bit of fight for his nominee, which isn’t a guarantee, many Americans would immediately blame him for being unreasonable and not nominating a more moderate judge, one the Democrats and Republicans could agree on nominating.
The GOPe would then be terrified that Trump’s already increasing unpopularity with the American people would rub off on them, making them more unpopular than they already are, if that’s possible.
Of course this entire argument hinges on the assumption that Trump would nominate a conservative judge in the first place, which certainly is no guarantee. Trump would know that it would be an uphill battle to get his nominee passed through the House and the Senate, and that he’d have to fight for him or her every step of the way.
Since when has Trump fought for any conservative idea or policy in his entire life, much less conservative person? He clearly doesn’t care about conservatism or advancing conservative values and policies, and after 70 years of living, you can’t convince me he’s gonna wake up one day and start caring enough to fight for those things now.
But just for the sake of argument I’ve granted that assumption to Trumpsters. Even with that assumption in place, there are the three factors I’ve outlined above that would stand in the way of any Trump Supreme Court nominee. The chances of Trump successfully overcoming all three of those factors is exceedingly small, small enough to justify being just one of many reason why I have always been and will always be #NeverTrump.