Note: This a repost from October 16, 2017. It remains relevant on this historic day.
There is one over-arching issue that I’ve been almost singularly focused on.
The Supreme Court.
This institution shapes our national character more than any other – and its presence is felt far past any president’s time in office.
With the passing of the great Justice Antonin Scalia we already have one seat to be filled. And there are three Justices who are 78 or older. The youngest Justice is 56 (a mere child) – the rest are 61 years old and above. You get the point.
The next president will have the opportunity to shape the ideological makeup of the court to a degree that perhaps no other president has attained.
As it stands now, half of the Justices were nominated by conservative presidents, the other half by liberal presidents. The Supreme Court had a slightly conservative lean in the past with the towering presence of Justice Scalia. We have a vacancy now. That means whoever is president gets to shape the majority of the Court immediately.
And so we stand at a crossroads.
Who we elect as president is certain to mold and sculpt the Supreme Court for years – probably decades – to come. And Supreme Court Justices’ decisions last longer than they do…
I would love to see Justices in the mold of Scalia or Thomas added to the bench.
My primary litmus test for any Supreme Court appointee is The Constitution. I’m not referring to Constructionism – but rather Originalism.
Strict Constructionism requires a judge to apply the text only as it is written. Originalism looks at three factors: original intent, original understanding and original public meaning. Justice Scalia tended to favor original public meaning. Justice Thomas appears to favor a blending of all three.
Trump floated an original list of 11 possible nominees for Justice Scalia’s seat. He has added 10 more to the list. By all accounts these potential nominees appear to be solid justices with real respect for our Constitution and should hold solid appeal for judicial conservatives. The list is also a racially diverse one, further enhancing its attractiveness.
Ms. Clinton has floated no such list – she even waffled on Obama’s current nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.
When asked during the second debate about her nominee thoughts Mrs. Clinton responded “I want to appoint Supreme Court justices who understand the way the world really works, who have real-life experience”…”I think the current court has gone in the wrong direction”…”I would like the Supreme Court to understand that voting rights are still a big problem”.
She used the term “I want the Supreme Court to understand” twice. She used the term “I want” in relation to Supreme Court views seven times. The comment I wrote down while viewing the debate live was “it sounds like she wants a Supreme Court by legislation”.
Most importantly, nowhere in her answer did she refer to the Constitution. Not once. I checked. I actually went back and read the transcript just to be sure.
Stop and think about that for a moment. When asked about nominating Justices and the future of the Supreme Court never did she mention the Constitution.
When Trump’s turn came the first real words he uttered were “I am looking to appoint Justices very much in the mold of Justice Scalia”. He then stated he was nominating “people who would respect the Constitution of the United States”.
Quite the contrast.
I believe – in large part because of the Supreme Court’s future – this is maybe the most important election we’ve ever faced.