Opportunity Possible for Trump to Make Supreme Court Solidly Conservative

August 13, 2020 by Tom Ramstack
The Supreme Court witnessed a breach of its confidentiality rules this week. (Ihsanyildizli/E+/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans are preparing for the possibility they and President Donald Trump will have an opportunity to turn the Supreme Court sharply to the conservative right soon.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent announcement that she is undergoing treatment for a recurrence of cancer is creating speculation about an opening on the Court while Trump still is president.

The 87-year-old is the oldest Supreme Court Justice and one who has clung to liberal opinions throughout her 27-year tenure.

At the moment, the liberal and conservative justices are largely balanced against each other.

If Trump nominates another Supreme Court justice similar to his previous two appointments, the Court could swing toward the conservatives for decades. Republican appointees then would have a 6-to-3 majority.

Their opinions have tended to differ from Democratic appointees on abortion, gay rights, illegal immigration, limits on police surveillance and protecting the Obamacare health insurance.

Democrats are demanding that any new appointments wait until after the Nov. 3 election, which polls show Democratic candidate Joe Biden is likely to win.

Republican leaders, such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, say they would not wait.

During a presentation to a Chamber of Commerce in his home state of Kentucky, McConnell was asked whether Republicans would fill a Supreme Court seat if one opened during Trump’s first term.

“Oh, we’d fill it,” McConnell answered.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., slammed McConnell’s comment in a tweet.

He said anyone who believed Democrats would allow confirmation of a Trump nominee to the Supreme Court less than three months before the election “is fooling themselves.”

Other evidence of Trump’s preference for hardline conservative judges to the Supreme Court comes from his appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to replace moderate conservative Anthony Kennedy and Neil Gorsuch to succeed Antonin Scalia.

On the federal courts of appeal, Trump has appointed 50 judges, all of them known for conservative rulings or points of view.

Biden has made it known that he would seek out judges with more liberal opinions. He formerly chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is tasked with confirming federal judge nominees.

Biden said he would only nominate judges who favor legal rights to abortion. He also said he wanted to nominate the first African American woman to the Supreme Court.

“We are putting together a list of a group of African American women who are qualified and have the experience to be on the court,” Biden said in June.

In addition to replacing Ginsburg, he might have opportunities with other Supreme Court justices who are showing their ages. Stephen Breyer is 81 years old and Clarence Thomas is 72 years old.

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