Is It Enough? - 5/19/16
One of the strongest arguments made to implore principled conservatives like myself to hold their noses and vote for Donald Trump despite his enormous shortcomings as the GOP Presidential nominee, is the one about the Supreme Court. At the moment with the recent passing of conservative jurist Antonin Scalia, there are eight members on the court, four steadfast liberals appointed by Democratic Presidents (Kagan, Breyer, Sotameyer and Ginsburg) and four justices appointed by the two President Bushes, two steadfast conservatives (Thomas and Alito) and two moderate justices who have been known to go either way (Kennedy and Roberts) and one vacancy as the result of Scalia's death. No Democrat SCOTUS appointee since Byron White was named by John F. Kennedy in the early 1960s has grown more conservative on the bench, so the appointment of even one more liberal justice by a President Clinton or Sanders would give that wing of the court a guaranteed majority, at least for the foreseeable future. When a more or less evenly split Supreme Court can legalize homosexual marriage, it makes my blood chill to think what a solidly liberal court might do.
This of course is the main reason that the Republican controlled US Senate has refused to even consider President's Obama nomination of Federal Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland to fill the Scalia vacancy. The hope is that it will be filled instead by a new more conservative President following November's election and now it appears that Donald Trump is the only one who might-I say "might" --fit that description.
The trouble is that Trump has seemed to have spent relatively little time thinking about the Supreme Court. Previously, when asked about it, he actually suggested that his sister, a judge and one notably liberal in her decisions, might make a good SCOTUS Justice. Now he says he was joking and indeed it is often difficult to tell when Mr. Trump is joking or being serious or whether he is ever serious at all.
Advocates for Trump point out that shortly after Scalia's death, the Donald said that the Justice's replacement should be someone just like him in his judicial philosophy. However, while I have never thought that Trump was an intellectual or even well-read, I never thought he was stupid. So I am not sure that Trump's didn't merely note the high praise that Scalia received from prominent conservatives when he died and just echoed it out of political calculation, not out of any true personal admiration for the deceased jurist.
Now, in a new attempt to curry favor with the right, Trump has issued a list of 11 men and women, currently serving on various courts around the nation. People whose judgment I admire and respect have praised the individuals on the list as both being well qualified and having the judicial temperament that conservatives look for, i.e. judges who will interpret the laws of the land and not attempt to make them.All well and good.
However, Trump has also said that while a future SCOTUS nominee of his will " most likely be from this list" that of course is not a guarantee. True, no one can predict the future and it's possible that another even more stellar candidate who will emerge who is not on the present list whose appointment will be even more welcomed by people like me, so you might argue that it would be foolish of the Donald to give any iron clad pledges.
But that leads us to my main reservation which is that we know that Donald Trump never makes iron clad pledges about anything-not in his public and certainly not in his private life. He has no track record of doing so and because of this I still cannot trust any promises he may make. I'm sorry, but this latest effort to prove Trump's conservative credentials still comes up short with me and it does nothing to change my decision not to cast a vote for him or any Republican who endorses him in this year's or any future election.