You were ever sucked into the RBG-lifts-weights story, you probably should just stop reading now. You aren’t going to be happy.
It is a not very well kept secret in Washington, DC, that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is frail and not in particularly good health. She is 86 years old and the actuarial tables say she has about 6 years life expectancy. She’s survived three different bouts with cancer. Not only has she suffered injuries requiring hospitalization in falls, her recovery from what was billed as a non-life threatening surgery was prolonged. When one looks at the news blackout on her latest cancer diagnosis–we weren’t told until after she’d had surgery which was about a month after discovery–it is safe to expect that she is not as healthy as she appears.
Axios’s Jonathan Swan has a scoop that says that President Trump intends to replace RBG with Amy Coney Barrett, an appeals court judge on the Seventh Circuit.
“As President Trump was preparing to nominate Brett Kavanaugh last year… he said, this is a direct quote, 'I'm saving her for Ginsburg' when the topic of Amy Coney Barrett came up." pic.twitter.com/lMwk6HxgDc
— Resistbot (@resistbot) April 1, 2019
This is how Swan handicaps it:
Barrett is a favorite among conservative activists, many of whom wanted her to take Kennedy’s spot.
- She’s young and proudly embraces her Catholic faith.
- Her past academic writings suggest an openness to overturning Roe v. Wade.
- Her nomination would throw gas on the culture-war fires, which Trump relishes.
But Trump chose to wait.
- Some Trump advisers worried Barrett’s staunch opposition to abortion rights would lose the votes of Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). But there wasn’t consensus; some advisers argued they would ultimately “do the right thing” and vote for Barrett.
- Trump came to doubt that “the women” (his shorthand for Collins and Murkowski) would support Barrett, according to sources who discussed the situation with Trump at the time.
- Some of Trump’s aides also felt confident about picking up more Senate seats in the 2018 midterms (which they did), meaning a more conservative pick might stand a better chance later.
Yes, but: There’s no guarantee Trump will get another Supreme Court pick. It’s very unlikely Ginsburg will retire while he’s in office. And though she’s 86 and has had 3 bouts with cancer, she’s on the bench now and appears healthy.
- Barrett isn’t a lock even if Trump does get to make another appointment, the people familiar with his thinking said.
- Barrett has the inside track “in a very specific sense,” said a source who’s discussed Barrett with Trump. “She is the most known quantity right now amongst the women on the list. … And she also has the inside track in the sense that she was kind of battle-tested for having gone through a confirmation already.”
Between the lines: Trump changes his mind all the time, and Barrett would need to undergo a fresh round of vetting to review the rulings and public comments she’s made since confirmed to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017.
- “The Supreme Court judicial selection process with the president is a very fluid one,” said a source familiar with Trump’s thinking on the subject. “He floats in and out of these discussions over a period of time.”
Barrett’s education didn’t appeal to Trump, according to sources familiar with his thinking. She went to law school at Notre Dame, and Trump prefers candidates with Harvard and Yale on their resumes.
I agree with all of that. At his core, Trump acts like a nouveau riche snob. Like the kind of guy who wants to make sure the logo of whatever he’s wearing/using is the most expensive brand. But he isn’t unique in his infatuation for selected Harvard/Yale alumni to the nation’s senior judicial positions. But Trump is also aware that Barrett does have a huge conservative following because she unabashedly lives her faith. (See Democrats Hammer Circuit Court Nominee Over Being Catholic and The New York Times Is Still Trying To Impose A Religious Test On This Appeals Court Nominee.) She could very well lose Collins and Murkowski in a vote, but I’m not sure that really matters when it comes to getting 50%+1. And Erick is right, too. Over the past year we’ve seen a lot of the Conservative, Inc., cruise-ship types begin to claw their way back to the center of power. The one thing these people understand is how to lose.
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