By John Fund
Donald Trump is known for his bluster and braggadocio. But he is also capable of canny and clever moves, of the kind that have propelled him forward in both business and politics. His appointment of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court is a good move that could help pay surprising dividends in the form of a second Supreme Court vacancy.
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First, the Gorsuch pick shows that Trump keeps his promises to his base. Not only did he pick a respected judge in the mold of the late Antonin Scalia, but he also kept to a list of 21 potential names he issued during his campaign. Conservatives are not only happy; they believe they know the list of judges Trump would pick from for a second vacancy. Despite the ups and downs of Trump’s term, look for conservatives to be more loyal to him because of Gorsuch.
Second, if Gorsuch is confirmed, he is almost tailor-made to build bridges between the court’s conservative wing and Anthony Kennedy, the moderate-to-conservative justice who is often the swing vote on key issues involving affirmative action, abortion, and the environment. Unlike Scalia, Gorsuch shares Kennedy’s never-ruffled temperament and courtly manner. In fact, Gorsuch once clerked for Kennedy on the Supreme Court and would, if confirmed, be the first clerk to ever serve on the court with the justice who hired him. And Gorsuch is the rare clerk who keeps in frequent touch with his mentor. Kennedy admires him greatly, even flying out to Denver in 2006 to swear in Gorsuch as a judge on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.