If you were a Republican but you did not like Donald Trump in 2016, you were told you had to vote for him for the all-important judicial nominations. The country could not survive if Hillary Clinton was able to appoint far-left judges to the federal judiciary, and the only viable option was Trump.
Most of those Republicans did. Trump got elected. Thus far, he has lived up to his pledge to appoint conservative judges — at least, so it seems.
The appointments and confirmation to the federal courts could go down as Trump’s most celebrated achievements of his presidency. Last week, the U.S. Senate confirmed Trump’s 150th judicial nominee.
Trump, with the help of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, is well on his way to reshaping the federal courts.
However, his two appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court could disappoint conservatives. It would not be the first time a Republican appointee to the high court did not live up to the expectations of conservatives.
John Paul Stevens (Gerald Ford appointee), Anthony Kennedy (George H.W. Bush appointee), John Roberts (George W. Bush appointee) and Brett Kavanaugh (Trump appointee) have lined up with the liberal wing of the court from time to time in their opinions. In some cases, they were reliably liberal justices.
There is a strong trend of GOP nominees on the high court. They tend to have an elite pedigree, like having attended an Ivy school or are from a non-flyover state.
Since the Supreme Court was established in 1789, 114 people have served on the court.
Three of those are from the state of Alabama: Hugo Black, John Archibald Campbell and John McKinley. Four have served from Georgia, including current Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. As for the rest of the South, six have been from Tennessee, four from Kentucky, two from South Carolina and one each from Mississippi and Louisiana. None have served from Florida.
Aside from Thomas and Neil Gorsuch, who hails from Colorado, the current Supreme Court is heavy on the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor are New Yorkers. Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan are from Massachusetts. Kavanaugh and Roberts are from Maryland. Samuel Alito is from New Jersey.
Detect a trend here? The high court lacks the geographic diversity of the country that elected Donald Trump and Barack Obama, which may at times have something to do with the head-scratching decisions it renders.
Now Kavanaugh faces even more scrutiny in the wake of revived sexual misconduct allegations. Yet, conservatives all over the country put themselves on the line in support of Kavanaugh’s nomination.
With all the (probably unwarranted) heartburn Kavanaugh has given the right, one would hope he is closer to the reincarnation of Antonin Scalia than Anthony Kennedy.
Kavanaugh sided with liberal justices in a ruling allowing iPhone users to sue Apple over prices on its App Store. He did the same in siding with liberals in declining to hear a case that would have allowed states to defund Planned Parenthood in state Medicaid programs.
It is early in his tenure, but is this the rock-ribbed conservative we had hoped for?
One of the perceived vulnerabilities of U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Mountain Brook, and his 2020 reelection bid is he did not vote for the confirmation of Kavanaugh. As the field of Alabama’s Republican U.S. Senate candidates make their way around the state and delivers speeches, they criticize Jones for that vote.
If Kavanaugh continues to disappoint conservatives with his personal baggage and his willingness to side with liberal justices, in the long run, will Republicans have a legitimate gripe against Jones for not voting to confirm Kavanaugh?
“You mean Jones didn’t vote for the guy who sided with Planned Parenthood and was accused of doing icky things with his genitals while a college student?”
See how that works knowing what we know now? Suddenly, Jones’ decision does not look as bad as it did at the height of the Kavanaugh confirmation saga.
Despite all of this, Kavanaugh is probably better than anyone Hillary Clinton might have appointed if she were elected president.
The American people did not elect Hillary Clinton. They did not elect Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz or any of the other GOP hopefuls.
They elected Donald Trump, the populist option of the 2016 field. Even though he was a billionaire from Queens, he represents the silent majority of the country who felt as if they were being overlooked by the political, cultural and economic elites in this country.
Kavanaugh might not be the last appointment Trump gets. In fact, U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, said if Trump is reelected in 2020, he could get up to three more appointees to the U.S. Supreme Court.
If that is the case, let us hope Trump looks down his list of qualified options who reside beyond the Acela corridor and nominates a judge more closely aligned with the identity of the people who voted him into office.
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