Thursday, January 05, 2017

Trump’s Strategy to Damage the Supreme Court

Despite my fears for the coming four years of the reign of Donald Trump, a/k/a Der Fuhrer, the nation may nevertheless manage to weather four years of corruption and authoritarianism at levels never before seen in America. What is more frightening is the likelihood that Trump may so damage the United States Supreme Court that the harm to the nation may last for a generation or more. If Trump keeps his promise to appoint justices that meet the standards of the Christofascists, expect gay rights, women's rights and minority right's (including voting rights) to be pushed backward in time towards an ugly past.  A piece in Politico looks at Trump's so-called strategy to turn the Court into a bastion of right wing ideology that would rubber stamp the worse excesses of Trump/Pence and the GOP's war on a majority of Americans.  Here are excerpts:
Donald Trump has narrowed his short list for his first Supreme Court pick down to roughly a half-dozen finalists but the president-elect and his top advisers are already thinking about a second selection, as they seek to quickly remodel the high court with a reliably conservative bent.
Trump’s team wants to make filling the seat held by the late Justice Antonin Scalia one of the earliest acts of his presidency, according to multiple transition officials, in hopes of scoring an energizing and unifying victory for the conservative movement.
And as Trump weighs perhaps the most enduring personnel decision he’ll make as president-elect — filing one of only nine lifetime seats on the high court — he has sought input from an array of friends, former rivals, and legal and TV personalities.
“He clearly understands he may have a chance to define the court for a generation or more and he is taking it very seriously,” said former Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump confidante.
While Scalia’s seat is the only current opening, Trump’s advisers are plotting how to fill that vacancy in tandem with the next one — a slot if vacated by a liberal justice like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 83, or swing-vote Justice Anthony Kennedy, 80, could far more dramatically move the court’s political center of gravity to the right.
The thinking inside the transition, according to multiple people involved in the internal deliberations, is that Scalia’s replacement offers Trump and the conservative movement the best chance for an unabashedly rock-ribbed replacement because it would not fundamentally shift the court’s balance of power.
“You’re basically dealing with a situation where no matter what conservative you put on the court you’re establishing the same parity that existed,” said a transition official involved in the selection process. “That is first and foremost in everybody’s minds.”
But in the current search process, Trump’s team is also hoping to identify a conservative candidate — possibly a woman — who could be more politically palatable, or at least harder for Senate Democrats to oppose, if Kennedy or Ginsburg leave the court.
Trump, besides promising to appoint justices in the mold of Scalia, is looking for some distinctly Trumpian qualities. He has repeatedly told his advisers, for instance, “I want someone who is not weak.”
That is especially appealing to legal conservative hardliners who are still scarred by former Justices David Souter and Sandra Day O’Connor, two Republican appointees who often sided with the court’s liberal bloc, and to a lesser extent Chief Justice John Roberts, an appointee of President George W. Bush, who upheld the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law.
“With each passing disappointment, people want to make sure this is not just someone who looks conservative, but is virtually guaranteed to be conservative on the bench,” said one veteran of past GOP Supreme Court confirmation fights, Curt Levey of Freedomworks and the Committee for Justice.
Leo said on “Fox News Sunday” that Trump’s team wants the Scalia vacancy filled in time for the new justice to be seated for the final sitting of this term in late April. That could allow the new justice to weigh in on important pending cases, including the detention of immigrants and transgender rights.
“Ideally, you would have someone who could be seated on the court at least by then to hear those final round of cases, perhaps even have some of the 4-4 decisions, if there are any, reheard by the court,” Leo said.
Whatever happens with the high court, Trump has a chance to quickly reshape the judiciary with more than 100 openings to fill in federal district and appeals courts. Some of those vacancies were the product of stalemate between the Obama White House and Republican senators who have an effective veto over judicial picks in their state.
For now, Trump’s team is girding for the higher-profile Supreme Court nomination to be one of the bigger battles of his early presidency.
“The court is 4 to 4,” noted another senior Trump adviser, “And whoever he puts there it’s 5 to 4.”
Be very afraid.  We are likely to see yet another nightmare become reality.  Identifying emigration destinations might not be amiss.  

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