President Trump plans to announce his choice to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court Monday, and grassroots activists are ready to promote and defend whomever Trump chooses from his public list of potential nominees.
On Monday, Trump interviewed four people for the job, Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Raymond Kethledge and Amul Thapar from the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and Brett Kavanaugh of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
More interviews were being scheduled.
Judicial Crisis Network Chief Counsel Carrie Severino says it’s crucial that the nominee has the right view of a judge’s role.
“The most important thing is this is going to be someone is faithful to the law, is faithful to the Constitution. We’re not looking for a specific outcome in any one case or the other. You want someone who is going to keep those principles first and foremost,” said Severino.
In the past week since Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, Democrats have alternated among demanding no confirmation vote be held until after the midterm elections to lamenting that one more originalist on the court will mean catastrophe for every liberal priority.
“It’s really a hysterical list. Everyone take a deep breath and try to look at the actual facts on the ground. As it happens, all these people are excellent and have great records of upholding the Constitution and reading the laws as they’re written,” said Severino.
So what does Severino think of the four candidates screened by Trump this week?
“You’ve got the constitutional legal scholar in Amy Coney Barrett. You’ve got Amul Thapar who’s got district court experience as well as now being an appellate court judge. He was even a short-lister and interviewed by the president for Justice Gorsuch’s spot. So he’s obviously been in the running for awhile.
“And then two Kennedy clerks, Judges Kethledge and Kavanaugh, both of whom have long track records on the bench and both of whom are incredibly highly regarded in their fields. It’s really an embarrassment of riches. I think I could be in love with any of these nominees,” said Severino.
Severino admits she was filled with dread in early 2016 when it appeared President Obama would have the chance to name a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia. That was before Senate Republicans insisted on waiting until the election was over before considering a nominee.
However, Severino argues the corollary to Obama naming a replacement for Scalia would be for Trump to name a successor for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She says the outrage over Trump choosing a justice to replace Kennedy’s is far too hysterical.
“Justice Kennedy, yes he was a swing vote, but he swung much more often with the conservatives. A couple of the recent terms were pretty discouraging for conservatives but this term he voted 100 percent with the conservative bloc,” said Severino.
She also says many Americans might be surprised to learn which justice Kennedy was closest to in his opinions.
“The justice he aligned the most with was Justice (Neil) Gorsuch and vice versa. It turns out that for all the hysteria of this is going to have such a huge, dramatic impact on the court, it turns out that you couldn’t have picked a better justice to mimic Justice Kennedy. So if we get a similar pick to Gorsuch, then any liberal worried about keeping Kennedy’s legacy alive should be happy,” said Severino.
With just a 51-49 majority and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., unlikely to be able to vote, Republicans cannot afford any defections without help from Democrats. In addition, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, now says she cannot support a nominee who could pose a threat to Roe v. Wade.
Nonetheless, Severino is confident that Collins and other moderate Republicans will stay in line. She says it’s the Democrats who have the real dilemma.
“They have to decide if they’re going to stand with the president’s nominee who is clearly, from the list we’re looking at, going to be an outstanding pick for the Supreme Court, or are they going to align themselves with a liberal fringe in the Democratic Party, and vote lockstep with Chuck Schumer.
“That might play well in California, in Massachusetts, in New York. I don’t know how that plays in West Virginia, Indiana, North Dakota, Missouri, Montana,” said Severino.
Ten senators are running for re-election in states carried by Trump in 2016. The five states mentioned by Severino went for Trump by wide margins.