By now only someone living in the most remote reaches of equatorial Africa could not know that Ruth Ginsburg died and that there is now a vacancy at the U.S. Supreme Court . . . right in time for the election chaos the Democrats had already planned to roll out.
This will be Donald Trump’s third USSC appointment. In case you were interested, no, it doesn’t come close to the record for a first-term president. Obviously, George Washington, who named all of the original Supreme Court justices (six) has the record. But William Howard Taft, an otherwise inconsequential president, also named six in his first term. Franklin Roosevelt, who had three and a half terms to do so, nominated eight (and probably would have had another six if his “court-packing” scheme had been approved by Congress).
Immediately screams from Sen. Chuck Schumer to the effect that ‘You better watch out, it will be no holds barred if you nominate someone before the election!” could be heard from the distant points of the Republic. Democrats went into a frenzy about the “McConnell Rule” in denying Merrick Garland a vote—-one of Yertle’s greatest accomplishments as Majority Leader—but the circumstances were vastly different (an exiting, vs. sitting president).
The issues are important and immediate: On November 3, the Democrats, already fearing they will lose in a “landslide” on election night, need to manufacture votes for weeks to even have a chance at “winning” some states. As these states begin their stall, court challenges will be mounted and might be expedited to the Supreme Court. We cannot have a four-four Court—assuming that Roberts would find some insane legal reasoning to rule against Trump. So, the justice must be confirmed before the election. A full court needs to be in place to rule on all the Machiavellian schemes the Democrats will come up with.
With statements yesterday from Ben Sasse and Lamar Alexander, two of the potential defectors, that they support moving forward, that really gives Trump all the support he needs to proceed. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Mitt Romney will either vote present or “no,” but that would still leave McConnell with 50 votes for a candidate and there is nothing preventing Mike Pence from breaking the tie. Indeed, in a lower court nomination, he already did. When this happens, watch for literal exploding heads from the left.
The problem is they already shot their wad. “You better not—or we’ll riot” hardly resonates when all the leftists have done for six months is riot. Schumer’s warning that the gloves are off rings hollow: when, ever, in the last four years have Senate Democrats acted with civility or “reached across the aisle” to advance any legislation? And, of course, we don’t even need to mention the Hopeless House, which squandered its entire two-year term on investigations and failed to pass a single piece of useful legislation other than the China Virus relief package.
So, let’s assume that Trump selects his nominee after a reasonable period of mourning for Ginsburg. My guess is that as he himself indicated it will be Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh Circuit. She is as pro-life as you get, has a large, diverse family, and is Catholic. This would shore up the mid-western Catholic Trump voters. My court guru Zen Master—whom I must say has never been wrong—also says the pick will be Barrett but won’t be surprised if Joan Larsen of the Sixth Circuit is selected.
Who, then, politically benefits in the heated elections coming up? Let’s look at the senators:
- Susan Collins. Having already outraged her liberal wing in Maine with her support of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Collins’s only hope is Republican turnout. But by insisting on waiting for the vote until after the nomination, she has lost that constituency. Collins is probably toast.
- Cory Gardner. He, unfortunately, is in a blue state where the independents are almost as blue, and a vote for Trump’s nominee will end any chance he has of drawing indies. But since he is already nearly a lame duck, he is pretty much free to do as he pleases. And I’m sure an administration job awaits him if he doesn’t screw up this vote.
- Thom Tillis, who has already come out in support of voting quickly, is in a tight race in North Carolina, which technically has a Democrat registration edge, but is really quite a red state. Tillis’s vote will bring over many who were going to vote for Trump and leave the senate line blank.
- Martha McSally. She came out early Saturday with a statement that we needed to fill the seat right away. Leftovers of the McCain era in Arizona, plus many of the supporters of Kelli Ward who thought McSally’s campaign against Ward was too dirty, will both ditch these concerns. I had McSally as a sure loss six months ago. Now, especially after the Court vote is in the air, I have her tied at worst.
- Lindsey Graham. While I don’t think he was in danger of losing his seat, his support was eroding over his two-year inaction as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. If the “Kavanaugh” Lindsey becomes the (say) “Barrett Lindsey,” he will again be celebrated in South Carolina.
This means that in raw numbers, probably nothing changes in the Senate race: R’s now would lose Collins but hold McSally (an exact reversal of where I had it two months ago), have an easier ride with Tillis and Graham, and still possibly pick up John James in Michigan to go along with a sure Tommy Tuberville victory in Alabama. The Court jockeying means that we still are likely looking at a 52-48 or even a 53-47 Senate next year . . . and a new Supreme Court Justice.
Let the games begin.
**On Fox and Friends this morning President Trump said his nomination might come as early as Saturday, and that there were many wonderful picks including “A great one from Michigan,” i.e., Joan Larsen. Sounds like Larsen is the pick.
Larry Schweikart is the co-author with Michael Allen of the New York Times #1 bestseller, A Patriot’s History of the United States, author of Reagan: the American President, and the founder of the Wild World of History, a history curriculum website for homeschoolers and teachers featuring a full US and World curriculum including teacher guide, student workbooks, tests, images/graphs, and video lectures to go with all units (www.wildworldofhistory.com).