As Leftist Progressives from sea to shining sea lose their collective minds and commence with an election-level meltdown over the announced retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, President Donald Trump begins the selection process of choosing his replacement.
According to Bloomberg, President Donald Trump has asked his advisors how they feel about nominating 47-year-old Senator Mike Lee (UT-R) to replace Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court. President Trump believes Lee would easily make it through the confirmation hearings in the Senate. However, the president has also expressed concerns about the Senate seat Lee’s appointment would leave vacant and keeping it in Republican hands.
President Trump states he has been assured that the seat will remain safely in Republican hands, yet the president complained he was assured the same about the Alabama Senate seat held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. That seat is now held by Democrat Doug Jones in a highly contentious special election that saw Republican candidate Roy Moore smeared by decades-old allegations of sexual impropriety just weeks before the election causing Moore to lose a significant lead over Jones.
Lee would be the left’s worst nightmare as Bloomberg notes, “Lee has publicly denounced the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion rights ruling, which could complicate his confirmation. Many of the other potential nominees, most of whom are judges, haven’t taken as clear a position on reversing the precedent.”
Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (NY) urged the Senate to hold off on confirming Kennedy’s replacement until after November’s midterm elections. Speaking on the Senate floor, he said that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should follow the same precedent set by Republicans in 2016 when they refused to weigh in on Merrick Garland (who was not confirmed) for months.
Schumer said that the vacancy is “the most important Supreme Court vacancy for this country in at least a generation,” noting that women’s reproductive rights and other issues hanging in the balance.
Critics note that Lee declined to endorse President Trump in the highly contentious 2016 presidential election and said he voted for independent candidate and fellow Utahan Evan McMullin instead as “a protest vote.” Lee explained his vote for McMullin due to anger at the Republican National Convention when it appeared the RNC committee was attempting to break the RNC’s own rules and steamroll dissent.
Lee, whose knowledge of the Constitution is scholarly, said at the time, “I have never in all my life, certainly going on six years in the United States Senate, prior to that as a lifelong Republican, never seen anything like this.”
Yet as Bloomberg notes President Trump and Lee have mended fences over the past two years and Lee has supported virtually all of President Trump’s top priorities. Lee stated in an interview with Fox News on Thursday of a potential nomination – “I have a good relationship with the president. He and I don’t see eye to eye on every issue. He and I see eye to eye on most things when it comes to the Supreme Court of the United States. I’m someone who’s been watching the Supreme Court since I was 10 years old. I’m honored to even be considered for something like this.”
Several key GOP senators have already publically stated they would support a Lee nomination including – Jeff Flake, Ted Cruz, John Kennedy and fellow Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. Objections to the nomination would likely arise from GOP senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Both women are staunch supporters of abortion. Bloomberg reported, “Murkowski simply said ‘hmm’ when asked about a possible Lee nomination Wednesday.”
Ben Shapiro notes additional names also being considered by President Trump –
- Brett Kavanaugh – Kavanaugh is a former clerk for Justice Kennedy. He was elevated to the federal bench in 2006, after a three-year delay. His nomination was delayed thanks to a Democratic upset over the fact that Kavanaugh worked for Kenneth Starr in the office of the Solicitor General, and had the temerity to say that the Clinton administration targeted Starr. Kavanaugh has been on the court for quite a while, and has a long record — he’s authored nearly 300 decisions. He recently dissented when the circuit decided that a 17-year-old illegal immigrant detainee had a right to an abortion (he explained that the decision was “based on a constitutional principle as novel as it is wrong”), and held in 2011 that the Washington, D.C. ban on semi-automatic rifles and its g*n registration requirement were unconstitutional under Heller. He also held that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau structure was unconstitutional.
- Amul Thapar – Thapar is relatively new to the appellate courts. He voted to uphold Ohio’s method of lethal injection and a Michigan government meeting’s opening with a Christian prayer. Thapar has ruled that monetary donations are a form of protected speech under the First Amendment. Because Thapar’s record is relatively thin, there’s not much to go on with regard to major hot-button issues like abortion and religious freedom. With that said, Professor Brian Fitzpatrick of Vanderbilt Law School describes Thapar as “very Scalia-like and Thomas-like.”
- Amy Barrett – Barrett’s nomination to the 7th Circuit became a cause celebre when Democrats began suggesting that her Catholicism was a bar to her ability to be an objective judge. She believes that life begins at conception, and signed a letter from the Becket Fund criticizing Obamacare’s requirement that employers provide contraceptive coverage, calling it a “grave violation of religious freedom.” Barrett has written in great depth on Justice Scalia’s originalism; she’s evidenced support for textualism as well. She clerked for Scalia.
- Thomas Hardiman – Leonard Leo, one of Trump’s chief advisors, has described Hardiman as “very much in the mold of Justice Scalia, well-schooled on the doctrines of originalism and textualism.” He has not spoken out himself about his judicial philosophy. He has stood against a New Jersey law that required a showing of “justifiable need” to allow carrying a h*****n publicly. In another Second Amendment case, he specifically stated that the “threshold question in a Second Amendment challenge is one of scope,” adding that the inquiry “requires an inquiry into ‘text and history.’” He also ruled in favor of an illegal immigrant seeking asylum on the grounds that he was targeted by MS-13.
- Raymond Kethledge – Kethledge, like Kavanaugh, is a former Kennedy clerk. In 2016, Kethledge slammed the IRS for failing to turn over materials necessary for determining whether they discriminated against conservative groups. Kethledge tends toward textualism, as he described in his original confirmation testimony: “I would make sure that the values that I would be enforcing if I were a judge are not just my values, that I am not striking something down simply because I don’t like it. That is a countermajoritarian aspect of our system of Government. I would start with the text. I would say that, sir.” He also said before the Federalist Society that “The court tries to find the best objective interpretation of the statute, based on the statutory text,” and said that the job of the court was to determine “what is the meaning that the citizens bound by the law would have ascribed to it at the time it was approved.” As far as abortion, Kethledge was Judiciary Committee counsel for Spencer Abraham when Abraham was pushing for a federal abortion ban.