Supreme Court Up for Grabs

Bill Neinast

One of the most important debates of the current Presidential campaign was held Monday of last week.  There was minimal news coverage of the event and even less public interest.

The debate was held in the chambers of the Supreme Court and involved the separation of powers among the three branches of the federal government.  The proceedings involved basic constitutional principles raised by Texas and 25 other states challenging the authority of President Obama to prohibit the deportation of some undocumented immigrants.

The gist of the case was succinctly stated by Justice Anthony Kennedy when he observed, "It's as if -- that the President is setting the policy and Congress is executing it. That's just upside down."

Regardless of the final decision in this case, it’s relevance to the Presidential race is beyond the understanding of most voters.

The court’s decision will either greatly expand the President’s power or radically reduce it.  Liberals, of course, want that power expanded while conservatives would prefer a return to the constitutional model of  limited power at the federal level.

This Supreme Court is the referee in this dispute and all the other cases concerning the power of the government.  Obviously, who sits on the court influences whether the government will grow or remains in the limits of the blue print of 1776.

Unfortunately, that is rarely mentioned in the presidential debates.  Most voters think the results of the election in November will last for only four years, or maybe eight if the winner is re-elected four years later.

Actually, the results of the election in about six months will last for generations.  As mentioned here previously, the new President will be able to appoint at least two and maybe three Justices to SCOTUS.  The new justices will determine whether the court leans left or right way beyond eight years.

If either Clinton or Sanders is elected President, there is no question that SCOTUS will lean far left and bless big government.  If either Trump or Cruz is elected, the composition of SCOTUS becomes a crap shoot.

Cruz appointees probably would be conservative.  As proved by Earl Warren, however, some who appear to be conservative can prove to be closet liberals.

With Trump, who knows.  He was known as a liberal before he decided to take a fling as a Republican.  A good bet is that his appointees would lean left.

For these reasons, the Senate Republicans should consider what is lying in wait.  If Hillary Clinton is elected President and Merrick Garland, Obama’s appointment to fill the late Antonin Scalia’ seat has not been confirmed by the Senate, ultra liberal Clinton will have an opportunity to overload the court with liberals.

There is an easy way for the Senate to buy a little insurance against that catastrophe. The Judiciary Committee should hold slow, long drawn out hearings on the confirmation of Garland.  Schedule the final meeting on November 7, the day before the election. 

Hold the vote until after the election results are known.  Then decide whether it would be better to approve the known nominee or take a chance on the new President’s friends.

So here’s the perspective.

Voters wake up.  More than White House occupancy is riding on the November election.  SCOTUS is going to be changed for years to come.

There is not a sliver of a doubt about how the court will look under either a Clinton or Sanders reign.  What it would look like under Trump or Cruz is not as clear, but presumably it would not be as left leaning as the other alternative.

So please keep SCOTUS in mind as you consider who to send to the White House  


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