Jonathan V. Last, of the Weekly Standard, wonders why would anyone trust Donald Trump’s Supreme Court promises:
Pretty much the only reason conservatives have for supporting Donald Trump is the Supreme Court. “Think of SCOTUS!” is a superficially compelling argument. But only superficially.
For starters, conservatives have no reason–none–to believe that Trump would appoint a conservative justice. I point you here to Ramesh Ponnuru’s depressingly compelling assessment of Trump’s views of the high court:
Trump’s word is meaningless. He stiffs creditors and contractors. He lies about matters small and large: about having told Republicans to hold their convention in Ohio, about letters he supposedly received from the NFL and about having opposed the Iraq war from the start. Trump isn’t even trustworthy on his signature issue of immigration: He flip-flopped twice in one day during the campaign about whether high-skilled immigrants should be kept out as a threat to American jobs or welcomed as a boon to our economy.
Why would he keep his word on the courts? He doesn’t care about the Constitution or the proper role of judges. When he talks about the Constitution, it’s glibly and dismissively. When it’s suggested that the Constitution might pose an obstacle to his plans, he says it “doesn’t give us the right to commit suicide.” He knows almost nothing about the law: He can’t tell the difference between a judicial opinion and a bill.
The few times he has taken an interest in constitutional issues, he has been on the other side from most conservatives. He thinks the government should have broad power to take people’s property and give it to developers; they don’t. He has used courts as a weapon to silence critics, and thinks it should be easier to use them that way. Most conservatives find that record and that idea appalling. If President Trump asks his aides to find him a judge who agrees with him on these issues, they will start by scrapping his list.
The next part of “Remember the SCOTUS!” insists that Republican senators–the same group of sell-out, RINO elites that are always being blamed for Trump’s rise–will somehow discover the backbone to force Trump into picking a conservative. What in the history of Trump’s relationship with institutional Republicans might lead one to believe that they, the GOP, could bend Trump to their will? Search me.
Last week David Frum wondered if the dynamic might not run the other way, actually: “Isn’t it more likely that President Trump will choose his judicial nominees to spite Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell than to please them?”
After watching Trump attack Paul Ryan, Kelly Ayotte, and John McCain last week, the answer to this question has got to be–at least–maybe?
And here’s Ponnuru again, gaming out a much more plausible scenario for what Trump might do:
To get a conservative on the Supreme Court would require a President Trump to wage an ideological war with Senate Democrats, even though he says he would prefer to be a dealmaker, and even though that war would turn on issues for which he has never in his life shown the slightest concern. Instead of making good on his promise, he could cut a deal with the Democrats. His nominee could then win confirmation with the support of most Democrats, moderate Republicans, and some conservative Republicans who will want to be on the same side as Trump.
Read the whole thing.