Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg came in for no small amount of criticism for failing to retire during Barack Obama’s time in the White House. But she was apparently so sure that Hillary Clinton was going to win the presidency in 2016, she had no real concern about a Republican naming her replacement on the Court.
When Donald Trump was sworn in, it was clear that she was going to do everything in her power to try to remain on the Court until he was safely voted out of office after only one term. She nearly did just that. Today Ginsburg lost her long battle with pancreatic cancer.
As the AP dryly puts it . . .
Ginsberg’s death just over six weeks before Election Day is likely to set off a heated battle over whether President Donald Trump should nominate, and the Republican-led Senate should confirm, her replacement, or if the seat should remain vacant until the outcome of his race against Democrat Joe Biden is known.
Uh huh. If they actually think that Trump will wait to see if he’s reelected before naming a replacement, we have some beautiful beachfront property in North Dakota we’d like to talk to them about.
Harry Reid and the Democrats used the nuclear option and killed the filibuster on judicial nominees back in 2013, apparently figuring they would forever be in control of the Senate. As Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell has done a remarkable job of pushing through a record number of Trump nominees to the federal bench over the last 3 1/2 years, largely remaking the federal judiciary. And whatever may have happened to the Garland nomination in Obama’s final days in office, you have to expect he’ll push through a Trump nominee come hell or high water.
If that happens, it would, of course, be very good news for gun rights. Since assuming the middle seat on the court, Chief Justice John Roberts’ squishy, unpredictable vote has resulted in all pending Second Amendment-relate cases being denied cert, rather than risking an adverse Roberts decision. A fifth solidly conservative appointment — joining Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh — could be exactly what gun rights supporters have long been waiting for.
And then there are the potential political angles to a quick replacement for Ginsburg. A solid conservative choice pushed through now would further energize the Republican base and demoralize Democrats. It would also, no doubt, result in one of the most incendiary Senate fights in decades. But without the filibuster, there’s little Senate Democrats could do, short of convincing three Republicans to abandon a Trump nominee.
There’s also the issue of what would happen if the November election results in another Bush v. Gore–style Supreme Court decision. If you’re President Trump, do you really want to put your fate in John Roberts’ hands?
In short, buckle up. It’s about to get very bumpy and awfully entertaining. There isn’t enough popcorn in the world for what we’re about the see in Washington.