President Donald Trump should choose his next Supreme Court nominee from the 2016 list, not from the recently expanded list.
Republicans all seem to agree that Trump should nominate immediately, but whom he should select has less consensus. The two front-runners are reported to be Judge Amy Coney Barrett and Judge Barbara Lagoa.
Barrett has widely been assumed to be the likely nominee to fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat, and between these two options, Trump should nominate Barrett. Whatever Lagoa’s qualifications, she was not on the list in 2016. The president made a promise when he was yet a candidate, and he shouldn’t break his word now.
The president made a contract with America: Trump’s Supreme Court list. The original collection of names was part of his pitch to the nation in 2016, when the Supreme Court was one of the primary motivating factors in that election.
Trump released the names to the public many months before the election and committed to choosing someone from that roll if the American people put their trust in him — which they did. The 2016 list is not just Trump’s roster, it has been vetted and ratified at the ballot box by the American people.
The people Trump added this month, however qualified, are part of his pitch to the American people for a second term. It is part of a new proposed contract, and while I have every expectation the nation will accept it, it is not the contract under which we are operating now.
Trump choosing someone he recently added would be substantively the same as if he had strayed in 2018 to nominate someone not on the list. In effect, Trump would be breaking his promise. Should another vacancy arise on the Supreme Court during his second term, he could use the expanded list, but until the election, anything but a choice from his 2016 roll is a breach.
Trump should ignore anyone who is unwisely urging him to consider his electoral prospects and thus nominate Lagoa, a Hispanic from Florida. He has a good chance of taking the Sunshine State regardless, and the president’s power to choose Supreme Court nominees should be above politics.
The nation, both Trump’s supporters and haters have expected Ginsburg’s replacement to be Barrett for some time now, and she has been doubly approved by the American people. She is on the original 2016 list, so the country accepted her when it agreed to its contract with Trump.
They reaffirmed that choice when voters expanded the Republican majority in the Senate in 2018. In a surprise move, Trump should pivot from his penchant for unpredictability and nominate Barrett, because with that choice he carries with him the full force of the American electorate.
Additionally, Republicans shouldn’t stop playing hardball. We should press the advantage and protect our nominee. With Barrett, the ghastly abuse that is the current confirmation process can be mercifully streamlined.
Because everyone knew Barrett was a likely replacement for Ginsburg, she received a Supreme Court-level scorching from the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017. Her Catholic faith provoked the Democrats to attempt an unconstitutional religious litmus test. Due to this pre-vetting process, Barrett should only have to go through a quick day of hearings, and the nomination should be put to a vote.
Trump made a contract with America. Although an updated contract is pending review and acceptance, we are still operating under the terms proposed and agreed upon in 2016.
Promises made, promises kept is more than a slogan. It is a reality that has fueled Trump’s successful first term and will “Keep America Great” in a second term. Trump vowed to choose a nominee from the 2016 list, and he should nominate Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.