Thirty years ago a good friend of mine said the most important reason to get the right president elected is the power to recommend a replacement on the US Supreme Court to the Senate. On June 27, I got a bad birthday surprise (on the 28th I turned 75) and that was that Justice Kennedy announced his resignation. Kennedy was appointed by Reagan and was supposed to be a conservative, but it turned out he was very pragmatic in his views and half the time was the deciding vote for the more liberal members and half of the time voted on the conservative side. He became the swing vote on many issues, creating a fairly balanced court.
With his resignation occurring as of July 31, it is relatively certain where this is going with Trump and the Republican Senate majority. In fact, with the oldest member of the court now being liberal judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg at 85, it could possibly move even more to the right as time goes on. Suffice to say those supporters of Roe v Wade are scared to death, as is the gay rights and LGBT community and a host of other groups.
The only way to slow this movement of a continuation of conservative judge appointments is for a number of things to happen, all of which are doubtful. The first is to have a small number of moderate Republican Senators stand up and promote a fairness standard and wait until after the mid terms to have a vote on Kennedy’s replacement. Their reasoning could rest on the fact that Mitch McConnell held up the vote on Merrick Garland until after the elections in 2016 and with that precedent the same should hold true now. Or, one or female Republican Senators might be swayed out of concern that a Trump appointee might be on the other side of Roe vs. Wade. I’m pretty certain that politics will trump fairness, but you never know.
The second doubtful event is that the Democrats will win enough Senate races to become the majority in 2019. Although there is a good chance to take the House, the Senate will be much harder and therefore if Ginsburg can’t hold on until after the 2020 elections, it almost certainly looks like another conservative appointment is the wings. I hate to say it, but the way things look now, there is a good chance we will have a conservative court throughout my lifetime and possibly my 50-year-old son’s lifetime.
As we look toward the future, many analysts have concluded the demographics look much more positive for the Democrats then the Republicans. With that said, I could see a future where the Presidency and both houses of Congress are held by a moderate to progressive Democrat party while the court remains staunchly conservative.
It looks like divided government might well be with us for a long time.
by Dick Goodson
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