By: Dr. Bob McClure
It’s obviously a fair assessment that President Trump’s tweets are unorthodox.
President Obama utilized Twitter during his time in the Oval Office, but his activity read more like press releases than personal thoughts. And there has been criticism of the president’s social media from both sides of the political spectrum including from Republicans who have condemned this unprecedented way of sharing thoughts and ideas. Contrast the president’s Twitter style with his discipline and philosophical commitment to judicial nominations that favor protecting our Constitution as the Founder’s intended, and conservatives will be happy for the trade.
After then-candidate Trump released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees during the 2016 campaign, many Republicans who initially did not support Trump decided to give him a chance, in hopes of filling judicial vacancies by putting originalist justices on the bench.
The two Supreme Court nominees put forward during his 18 months in office exemplify President Trump’s determination and devotion to putting men and women on the bench who seek to defend the Constitution.
On Monday, July 9, President Trump nominated Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by retiring Justice Kennedy. Judge Kavanaugh has abided by the principles of textualism and originalism, working to adhere to the Constitution and interpret it as our Founders intended. And while some may nitpick here or there, Judge Kavanaugh bears little resemblance to a Trump tweet. He was on the president’s campaign-released shortlist of Supreme Court nominees, was endorsed by the Federalist Society, and just like every other current Justice (aside from Justice Kagan), Judge Kavanaugh has sat on one of the Federal courts of appeals.
President Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, was also no exception to the originalist commitment. Nominated in Trump’s first month in office and confirmed two months later, Justice Gorsuch was certainly subject to scrutiny, and was widely met with resounding approval by those committed to an originalist philosophy. With a decade of experience on the federal bench, support from the Federalist Society, and a record of strict adherence to the Constitution, Justice Gorsuch was far from a surprising pick.
The qualified list of strong judicial nominations does not stop at the Supreme Court. As of July 10, all but four of Trump’s 103 federal court nominations received a “Qualified” or higher rating by the American Bar Association.
Filling the lower courts with qualified judges committed to originalist principles will ensure a legacy of liberty and freedom beyond the term of this presidency.
To be certain, the rulings of the 2018 Supreme Court illustrate how vitally important President Trump’s Supreme Court picks have been.
In NIFLA v. Beccera, Justice Gorsuch was a member of the majority in a narrow 5-4 victory for free speech and association, ruling that crisis pregnancy centers cannot be compelled by the government to make statements violating their consciences.
In JANUS v. AFSCME, another narrow 5-4 decision, the Court protected First Amendment rights in ruling that public employees may not be forced to pay a government union as a condition of their employment. Two major victories secured because of a crucial judicial confirmation.
It would be very easy to imagine a strikingly different set of outcomes under a Supreme Court in a Hillary Clinton presidential administration. With two Supreme Court nominations before the end of the second year of this presidency, the Court would have been decisively shifted to the Left ideologically, in favor of the radically progressive “living constitution” theory of Justices like Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. Cases such as the two mentioned give an idea of just how close the decisions have been, and how different the decisions may have looked.
I would contend that if you voted for Donald Trump in 2016 with the sole hope of originalist Federal court appointments, then you have won big. Whether President Trump serves in the Oval Office for two more years or six more years, his history of placing committed and qualified textualists and originalists on the Supreme Court and lower courts will serve as a big victory for liberty long past his tenure.
And I believe that even if President Trump’s tweets are parting ways with past precedent, not always a bad thing, his Court picks will continue to share a philosophy that protects and nurtures a 231 year-old document in no need of unorthodox interpretation. And that’s a good thing.
Dr. Robert McClure provides expert perspective on current issues facing our nation and his home state of Florida, the third-largest state in the nation and a policy bellwether for the country. Recently named one of the Most Influential People in Florida Politics, Dr. McClure serves as the President and CEO of The James Madison Institute, Florida’s premier free-market think tank. He is a frequent commentator on television and talk radio programs and has lectured nationally on diverse policy issues. Dr. McClure has been published numerous times at both the state and national level on topics including property rights, tax policy, health care, and education reform. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.