Bench Memos

Law & the Courts


At the risk of being faulted for pointing out the obvious, I’ll add to Jonathan Adler’s post on Donald Trump and Kelo by observing that there is zero reason to believe that Trump would select any judicial conservative for the Supreme Court. Charlie Cooke amply covered this terrain two months ago in his piece “Trump, the Anti-Constitutional Authoritarian—Liberty Lovers, Beware”:

Whatever else he might be, the idea of Trump as a paladin of civil liberties should make one howl with terrible laughter. Since he announced his candidacy, Trump has threatened to ignore those who are carping about free speech and shut down parts of the Internet; he has promised to summarily deport those who are suspected of being illegal immigrants, without due process of law; he has endorsed extensive campaign-finance regulations that fly directly in the face of the First Amendment; he has vowed to restrict the Second Amendment rights of those on the terror watch list, again without due process; he has praised Franklin Roosevelt’s internment of American citizens, suggested that natural-born Americans can be deported against their will, and proposed that American Muslims be barred from reentering the country; he has described as “wonderful” a Supreme Court ruling that obliterated the “public use” limitations on the invocation of eminent domain; and he has refused to rule out registering Americans on the basis of their faith. Worse still, he has responded to the criticism that these positions have generated by channeling his inner Nancy Pelosi: “Are you serious?”

(Sure, you can nitpick, if you wish, about some of Charlie’s items, but the larger picture still stands.)

And let’s add to that Trump’s claim that his sister, Third Circuit judge Maryanne Trump Barry, would make a “phenomenal” Supreme Court justice. As Ramesh Ponnuru points out, Judge Barry wrote “one of those heated judicial decisions in favor of giving constitutional protection to partial-birth abortion.”

Conversely, I can’t discern an iota of evidence in favor of the proposition that Trump would make sound judicial selections.​

(As always, any praise or criticism I offer for electoral candidates is on my own behalf only.)

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