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The Supreme Court Joins the Campaign

With the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the likelihood that the next president will immediately appoint a replacement will excite the already energized base of both the Democratic and Republican parties, a prospect that in the GOP race could benefit the most obviously ideological candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Saturday said the vacancy “should not be filled until we have a new president.” Other leading Republicans echoed that there will be no vote this year, even though President Obama said he will nominate someone. But if the Senate will not give its advice and consent, the appointment is punted to the next president — and onto the campaign trail.

Given that the Ronald Reagan-selected Scalia is the the intellectual backbone of the Court’s conservative wing, his successor could be the most important judicial nomination made by a Republican president — should that be who is in the White House next year — in decades.

Cruz will be counting on conservatives to believe he will not only to choose an unimpeachably conservative jurist, but, given his history of facing down the Senate, will implacably press for confirmation. During Saturday night’s GOP debate Greenville, South Carolina, Cruz began making the argument.

“And then for the state of South Carolina, one of the most important judgments for the men and women of South Carolina to make is who on this stage has the background, the principle, the character, the judgment, and the strength of resolve to nominate and confirm principled constitutionalists to the court?” he said. Who indeed? “That will be what I will do if I’m elected president,” Cruz asserted.

But whom this might help on the Democratic side is less clear. While Sen. Bernie Sanders is the more ideological candidate, for many Democrats, the Supreme Court evokes a single thought — abortion — and nobody bests Hillary Clinton on that issue. And having the Court so obviously at stake will certainly help Clinton should she be the Democratic nominee, getting lefties to the polls who otherwise might have sat home pining for Bernie.

The entrance of the Court into the campaign could become something of an Achilles Heel for Donald Trump. During Saturday night’s debate, Cruz demonstrated he plans to embrace the opportunity.

“The next president is going to appoint, one, two, three, four Supreme Court Justices,” Cruz said. “If Donald Trump is president, he will appoint liberals.”

Cruz and other Republican candidates are certain to pounce on Trump’s recent assertion last year that his sister, U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Marion Barry, would make a “phenomenal” addition to the High Court. Barry has incurred fire from the right for a decision 15 years ago that upheld a lower court decision striking down a partial birth abortion ban. None of the candidates Saturday dared make Trump’s sister an issue to his face, but they no doubt will start bringing her up from a safer distance.

And Trump’s support of the “Kelo” decision, which conservatives have attacked as an unjust expansion of the right of the government to use eminent domain to take private property, could also be wielded by Trump’s GOP opponents against him. All in all, Trump may now need to clarify what type of justices he would appoint and make his thoughts about the judiciary more clear.

Trump sought to get out ahead of the issue, responding to the debates’s opening question about Scalia by suggesting he might nominate Seventhe Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Diane Sykes or Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Bill Pryor, two respected conservatives. And Trump was careful to laud Scalia.

“Trump tells GOP not to vote on Obama nominee”

“This is a tremendous blow to conservatism. It’s a tremendous blow, frankly to our country,” he said of Scalia’s passing.

The rest of the candidates vied to demonstrate how committed they were to appointing a conservative.

“We need to put people on the bench that understand that the Constitution is not a living and breathing document,” said Sen. Marco Rubio. “It is to be interpreted as originally meant.”

Jeb Bush said he’d appoint someone just like Scalia.

“The simple fact is the next president needs to appoint someone with a proven conservative record, similar to Justice Scalia, that is a lover of liberty, that believes in limited government, that consistently applied that kind of philosophy, that didn’t try to legislator from the bench, that was respectful of the Constitution,” he declared.

47 Responses to The Supreme Court Joins the Campaign

  1. A male talking head on Maria’s show said that the only possible democratic SC nominee to be approved by the Senate would be Joe Biden. No one laughed.

  2. Both Cruz and Rubio have said that the next president should select.
    McConnell has said the same thing.

    Watch for the stompy feet POTUS to raise this issue to a level that is not necessary.
    After all, his legacy is involved here.

    • Oh, yeah–you are so right–he will stick his pious chin up and say it’s his “responsibility” to keep the court staffed up–or has he already said this…How long the Senate can stall and whether he could pocket appt in Jan when Senate is out…who knows. I am sure all this will be “explored” ad nauseam. And what about an interim appt. This is making my head hurt.

    • Obama will end up calling it a Constitutional crisis, the end of the Republic, doomsday, spout off lots of “This cannot stand” statements, all the rest of it. The MSM will take Obama’s side, of course, and the whole thing will be yet another Obama screw up with Republicans getting the blame. Justice Scalia is dead only a day, and Obama has already made it an ugly political football.

  3. Was that the POTUS who yelled “yippee” when the news of the sudden death of the most hated conservative on the Supreme Court?
    Of course it was.
    He might not have said it outloud , but he sure as heck was wallowing delightfully in the chance to skew the court to a bunch of idiot progressives who think the constitution is a dead idea, and should be round-filed.

    To my limited knowledge, there is no mandate that a vacancy on the high court needs to be filled without delay. All of the pending issues can be set aside for review and decisions in November – 9 months from now.

    How big a deal, how massive a PR campaign becomes depends on the MSM and the parties involved.
    IMO, it would be a mistake of the biggest affect for MrObama to nominate another left-leaning, progressive. The voting public is not in the mood for more push-out from the government – we’re in push-back.

    • No there is no mandate, only in Obama’s mind.
      He is running out of time to make his legacy stick for a long period of time.
      The death of Scalia is an opportunity to further put his finger print on this Nation by appointing a judge that will rule on the progressive/liberal side of the bench.

      Now we will see if the senate really has the power to oppose the POTUS.

      • McConnell has said no way. You should have seen Chuckie Todd try to talk Trump, Rubio, Cruz, and Kasich into saying the Sen should just be a sport and vote…They also said no way. So the Reps can be tagged with being “obstructionist”? Todd is so biased–why doesn’t he run instead of trying to style people?

  4. From the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show Wayback Machine, Chuckie Schumer opining on Bush in 2007: Read it and laugh. Dated July 2007.

    New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a powerful member of the Democratic leadership, said Friday the Senate should not confirm another U.S. Supreme Court nominee under President Bush “except in extraordinary circumstances.”
    “We should reverse the presumption of confirmation,” Schumer told the American Constitution Society convention in Washington. “The Supreme Court is dangerously out of balance. We cannot afford to see Justice Stevens replaced by another Roberts, or Justice Ginsburg by another Alito.”
    Story Continued Below

    Schumer’s assertion comes as Democrats and liberal advocacy groups are increasingly complaining that the Supreme Court with Bush’s nominees – Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito – has moved quicker than expected to overturn legal precedents.
    Senators were too quick to accept the nominees’ word that they would respect legal precedents, and “too easily impressed with the charm of Roberts and the erudition of Alito,” Schumer said.
    “There is no doubt that we were hoodwinked,” said Schumer, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and heads the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

  5. Ted Cruz spoke at my church this morning. He said numerous times that with the death of Justice Scalia, we are now just one vote away from having our 1st and 2nd Amendment rights stripped from us.
    He is an impressive speaker. He also gave his personal testimony.
    The liberals did not disappoint today…they were out on the sidewalk after church ended chanting and waving banners about separation of church and state.
    I wish someone would clue them in to what the Founders meant when they wrote that the government could not mandate religion.

    • His dad is a preacher, I think–did it seem political for a church? Don’t know what I would have thought…. My church in DC got kinda political when the Clintons started attending…

      • It did not bother me at all. But a good friend of mine decided to stay away from church this morning because Cruz was speaking and it is a “political season.”
        He did not talk about immigration, he did not badmouth any other candidates or Barack Obama, he did not talk about TPP.
        He talked about the 1st and 2nd Amendments, the makeup of the SC, abortion, the definition of marriage and his personal testimony.
        All in all, he gave a picture of what his personal beliefs are. I think this is important for a candidate to do. You can get a better feeling for how they will hold up when the going gets tough and they have to stand their ground.
        He was very focused and quite personable.

  6. One horror book to read, not at bedtime because it will keep you awake. “The Tempting of America”
    “a political seduction of the law” by Robert H. Bork, 1990. History book of the wimpy, political judges, the way they convoluted constitutional law to fulfill their own personal feelings on cases. Proving how un neutral judges can operate.