Many conservatives who may have been unsure about Donald Trump during the campaign ultimately voted for him because of his promise to nominate a strong pro-life Supreme Court justice to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
The data bear this out: 21 percent of voters said that Supreme Court picks were “the most important factor” in their decision about whom to support for president in 2016. Among those voters, 57 percent voted for Donald Trump. And President Trump delivered for these voters by nominating Justice Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed last month after Senate Republicans overrode the Democrats’ filibuster.
This success, on its own, made voting for President Trump worth it for millions of conservative voters.
But in an interview with Stephen Dinan at the Washington Times, President Trump promised that Gorsuch wasn’t just a one-off campaign promise. If another Supreme Court seat opens up during his term(s), he intends to pick another conservative, pro-life judge:
Mr. Trump shook the election campaign last year when he announced a list of 21 potential Supreme Court nominees, selected with the help of the Federalist Society and The Heritage Foundation. The list was an instant hit with conservatives and helped cement the candidate’s support among the Republican base.
“It’s a great list. From the moment I put that list out, it solved that problem. And I was proud to say it was my idea,” he said.
Mr. Trump said he has heard rumors that one of the justices will retire when the current court session ends in June but that he doesn’t have any inside knowledge.
“I don’t know. I have a lot of respect for Justice Kennedy, but I just don’t know,” Mr. Trump said, referring to the senior member of the bench, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. “I don’t like talking about it. I’ve heard the same rumors that a lot of people have heard. And I have a lot of respect for that gentleman, a lot.”
Mr. Trump said conservative voters should be assured that his next choice will be “really talented and of our views.” Asked specifically whether he would pick from the list of candidates he put forward in the campaign, Mr. Trump was unequivocal: “Yes,” he said, adding, “That list was a big thing.”
This is obviously a big deal. It’s phenomenal that Justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed, but ultimately that appointment was about keeping the balance of the Supreme Court the same.
But replacing the moderate Justice Kennedy — or perhaps even one of the liberal justices — with a conservative from President Trump’s list would permanently shift the balance of the Court in the right direction, paving the way for the reversal of historically bad decisions like Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Obergefell v. Hodges, etc.
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