The political buzz says President Trump’s top two finalists for a new Supreme Court nominee are Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. It also says White House staff, except Trump, lean towards Kavanaugh. Given Kavanaugh’s worrisome record on religious liberty, the underpinning of all our other rights and the system of natural rights itself, that’s a big problem.
He'll choose Kavanaugh if he goes the central-casting/Ivy Leaguer route, and Barrett if he wants to trigger the libs. Edge to Barrett. https://t.co/AV5f1myLt6
— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) July 2, 2018
By the 2016 election, I was sick of holding my nose and voting for whoever the Republican Party put in as their candidate despite managerial progressive governance records (that would be you, George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, and John McCain). I was sick of Republicans telling me they are pro-life and for responsible government management, then spending their tenures not playing political hardball to reduce genocide against the unborn and presiding over the world’s largest-ever accumulation of promissory notes that me and my kids are on the hook to pay off without ever seeing any benefits.
I was sick of Republicans cynically hiding behind a flag to boost military spending that went to contractors for useless peacocking toys plus lobbying positions for themselves in the “private sector” after they revolved out of office, while turning my friends and their cousins and girlfriends into mercenaries sent off to fight random wars in distant lands in return for college, health care, and housing payouts rather than a clear securing of American interests.
Unlike the Republican politicians I’ve grown up watching bait and switch me with platitudes about ‘Merica and God and pro-life this and that, President Trump has actually done what he’s promised, to the extent politically possible. And these are things I support.
President Trump has been possibly the most pro-life president ever, despite his past abortion-supporting statements. His regulation-killing is going gangbusters, and I only wish Congress would get its butt in gear and codify the cleanout in law. What he’s done regarding North Korea, Iran, and China is spectacular — even if it only turns out to be words in North Korea, he at least shone a spotlight on these regime rats and their attempts to intimidate and exploit our country for fools. Words are a huge part of diplomacy. We may not have a national missile defense system, but President Trump’s bomb-tastic Twitter account is doing just fine as a temporary measure.
Like most of America, I support securing our border and focusing our country’s resources on the hundreds of thousands of desperate American kids separated from their families, since every decent country exists for its own citizens’ benefit first. “But Neil Gorsuch” is a cliche in punditry by now, but it’s a cliche because that was a major payment on Trump’s promissory note to uneasy voters, like me.
President Trump made a contract with America that he has kept, perhaps nowhere more clearly than on judges. Now that Justice Anthony Kennedy has retired, President Trump owes it to us to continue keeping his promise to appoint justices in the mold of the late Antonin Scalia, a promise that likely got Trump elected. People say Trump is a transactional president. Well, this is a transaction that he’s already signed his name to. Next is to deliver.
I think I can expect him to do that, since he’s been delivering his entire presidency. But, as during the 2016 election, the reports about what Trump might do are troubling. Kavanaugh has a record suggestive of some judicial activism, especially on religious liberty cases, the key legal battle of our times, because if government can decide what you’re allowed to believe, it owns your very soul. We all know that Supreme Court justices tend to get worse over time. Picking judges who apply the law as our elected representatives wrote them, and who understand and apply the Constitution as it was written, is another thing Republicans have failed spectacularly at over the decades.
It was President Reagan who nominated Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor, both justices with highly politicized records. Bush II gave us John Roberts, Mr. “A Penalty Is a Tax,” and tried to install the spectacularly bad Harriet Miers. George H.W. Bush gave us David Souter, who turned out to be a terrible disappointment. Same for Gerald Ford appointee John Paul Stevens.
This inability to appoint justices firmly committed to the rule of law has also fueled the anti-Republican anger Trump rode into the presidency. Everybody knows we cannot afford for Trump to whiff on this one. Like it or not — and I don’t — the Left has politicized the courts. The justices they appoint do not rule based on natural law, let alone the kind of law that is an extension of the people’s consent: that created by our elected representatives.
This disposition has infected the entire legal profession, and it’s bad for the country. To be ruled without our consent amplifies discontent, distrust, and unrest. Our natural rights are often now subject to a 5-4 vote. There is no margin for error here. We cannot afford for a justice who “evolves” on the court, especially one whose existing record suggests he doesn’t deeply understand Americans’ first freedoms of thought and speech. Once appointed to that bench for life, we’ve all seen how easily a weak disposition turns into a weak character and weak judicial decisions. The president shouldn’t risk it.
I have no wish to malign a good man. Kavanaugh has much to recommend him. But so do all the judges on President Trump’s list. If it turns out that President Trump has nominated a justice who fails to uphold my right to live in accordance with my faith, I can’t vote for him in 2020. A booming economy or national pride merely equals 30 pieces of silver betrayal if its price is my duties to God.
Millions of other Americans feel the same way. This belief is what sent people fleeing Europe into the American wilderness in the first place. These are the kind of people who built America, and without whom it dissipates. These are the people who voted Trump into office based significantly on his promise to appoint judges who will not force Americans to spurn God to participate in the public square.
Now is the most important time to make good on that promise. My one comfort is that, unlike the typical Republican, Trump tends to uphold his end of the bargain. If so, I look forward to upholding mine in 2020.