To Win Re-Election, Trump Should Nominate Amy Coney Barrett

To Win Re-Election, Trump Should Nominate Amy Coney Barrett

Not only is this the right decision on principle, since judicial nominations are the duty of the president, but it is also the right political move.
Willis L. Krumholz
By

In politics, there is a time to be careful and deliberative and a time to take a calculated risk that offers a high payout. After the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Donald Trump should nominate Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

Already, Senate Republicans are divided over whether Trump should nominate a new justice with just six weeks to go before the election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he would immediately move a Trump nomination forward, but Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said there should be no nominee before the election.

In a more defensible position, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said the confirmation process could begin before the election, but the Senate should not confirm until after the election. Murkowski and Collins are two votes out of the GOP’s 53-seat Senate majority, which has the conservative base upset. National Review’s Andrew McCarthy worries that trying to push a nominee through the Senate in six weeks will enrage Democrats and lose Trump the election.

Much of this misses the point. Congress is still considering another round of deficit-funded bailouts, a government funding bill, and the election is little more than a month away. Approving a nominee is highly unlikely in this short period of time, even if the Senate is extremely motivated.

Trump should still nominate someone, however, and the Senate should still begin the confirmation process. Not only is this the right decision on principle, since judicial nominations are the duty of the president, but it is also the right political move.

It sets up the nomination as the primary election issue. Coney Barrett as the nominee would improve the odds of Trump’s re-election, just as the reaction to Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination possibly caused Democrats to lose key Senate races in 2018.

Barrett Is Firmly Pro-Life

First, Barrett is decidedly pro-life. There are more core pro-life supporters than there are core abortion supporters. Assuming the polls are correct, most Americans support some legalized abortion but with limits.

A very small minority of Americans support the Democrat Party’s official position on abortion, which is that it should be completely unrestricted. An equally small minority of Americans share the belief, growing in the Democratic Party, that abortion should be celebrated, to the point of treating it as a sacrament of some weird religion. The same polls show that while those who identify as pro-life rank this as one of their highest issues, most who identify as pro-choice have many other issues that rank above abortion in importance.

The core abortion supporters already overwhelmingly vote Democrat, while a handful of core life supporters did not vote for Trump in 2016. Nominating Barrett solidifies Trump’s support among the roughly 40 percent of Americans who describe themselves as pro-life. It also guards against the grave error of appointing another so-called moderate to the Supreme Court who would betray the Constitution in favor of a contrived right to an abortion and privacy.

Nominating Barrett also baits Democrats into revealing they are abortion extremists. Maybe a quarter of the country agrees with the official Democratic line on abortion — that’s it. What’s more, about a third of the Democratic voting base supports abortion restrictions and is marginally pro-life.

Many of these voters are black and Hispanic Americans. Overall, blacks and Hispanics are more culturally conservative than much of the rest of America. Democrats’ “abortion is a sacrament” talk just won’t fly with these black and Hispanic voters.

Reveal the Left’s Extremism

Already both blacks and Hispanics, especially the latter, appear to be moving in large numbers toward Trump. Why would Democrats risk offending their culturally conservative black and Hispanic voters over fealty to abortion? Because they will be so enraged by the Barrett nomination that they won’t be able to help themselves. Just watch. At the extreme end of the Democratic Party, there are already threats of violence over filling this vacancy.

The inevitable attacks on Barrett will express anti-Catholic bigotry — and bigotry against a successful working mother. When Barrett was before the Senate in 2017, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., criticized Barrett because “the [Catholic] dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern.” These smears will backfire.

Many Catholics live in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, and many are swing voters. Like it or not, Joe Biden is more likable than Hillary Clinton, and he labels himself a Catholic. If Biden wins the election, it will be in part because of this difference between the two Democratic candidates. Trump running on Barrett can reverse any advantage Biden has, relative to Clinton, with Rust Belt Catholics.

Attacks on Barrett Will Be Self-Defeating

Finally, Barrett is a highly successful professional woman, an appellate judge, and a former law professor at a leading law school. She has a wonderful family story, which includes seven children. Two of her children were adopted from Haiti, and one of her children has special needs. She will come off extremely well to the general public. Go watch a video of Barrett speaking; she will be a tremendous success.

Democrats will attack her viciously, which will only help her cause. These attacks will be self-defeating after Democrats’ Kavanaugh debacle — which likely allowed Republicans to hold the Senate in 2018 — especially because now the Democrats will be attacking a working mother, not a connected former Bush administration bigwig.

Trump should nominate Barrett as soon as possible. Don’t let the media lionize Ruth Bader Ginsburg over the next few weeks. This is a woman who, when talking about taxpayer funding of unrestricted abortion for poor women — currently illegal at the federal level — said: “Frankly I had thought that at the time [Roe vs. Wade] was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”

Trump should announce Barrett by tweeting that she is a “strong woman, with tremendous intellect, who has been incredibly successful in a field traditionally dominated by men.” The president should note that because of these qualities, Barrett “is the perfect replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg!”

Willis L. Krumholz is a fellow at Defense Priorities. He holds a JD and MBA degree from the University of St. Thomas, and works in the financial services industry. The views expressed are those of the author only. You can follow Willis on Twitter @WillKrumholz.

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