Every day, people tell anti-Trump conservatives like me that we must support Trump, because of the Supreme Court. “SCOTUS! SCOTUS!” they say — and that is supposed to end all discussion.
Trump himself is in on the game. A few weeks ago, he tweeted, “If dummy Bill Kristol actually does get a spoiler to run as an Independent, say good bye to the Supreme Court!”
If Kristol is a dummy, Trump must be …? Anyway, to the cry of “SCOTUS!” I have a two-part answer.
At the beginning of the campaign, Trump suggested that his sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, be on the Supreme Court. I’m all for family loyalty, to a point. (I wrote a book that deals with this.) And Trump later disavowed the idea of appointing his sister to the Court.
Be that as it may, Judge Barry has some decidedly non-conservative views on abortion. Ted Cruz pointed this out, causing Trump to respond in a debate. “She’s a brilliant judge,” he said. Cruz “has been criticizing my sister for signing a certain bill. You know who else signed that bill? Justice Samuel Alito, a very conservative member of the Supreme Court.”
Two thoughts here. First, Trump said that Alito was “very conservative” as though he were some kind of far-out dude. Second, a nominee for president should probably know that judges do not sign bills. Maybe Trump was thinking of governors? Or presidents?
A couple of weeks after Trump vanquished his Republican opponents, his campaign released a list of people from which a President Trump would choose Supreme Court justices. This was designed to mollify conservatives, who were fretting. Indeed, one headline read, “Trump soothes the right with list of Supreme Court picks.”
Trump quickly said he would not be bound by the list: Maybe he would pick from it, maybe he wouldn’t. At any rate, who knows what he believes about judges and judicial philosophy? Who knows what he would do as president? I bet his picks would be better than Hillary Clinton’s.
But here I get to the second part of my overall answer: The Supreme Court is important, yes. It always is. In recent years, the Court has ruled screwily on gay marriage and Obamacare, to name two issues. But other things are important, too: like war and peace. And nukes. And the economy. And trade. And NATO. And Japan and South Korea. And not defaulting on our debt. And so on. The presidency is a big job (famously, or infamously).
I cannot be spooked by “SCOTUS!” It is not a conversation-stopper, for me. And I wanted to write all this down so as to have something to show the would-be spookers, if I had to.
One more thing: Conservatives are in a miserable spot this year. Our views, generally speaking, are not represented on the fall ballot. What to do, how to respond?
I understand those conservatives who are supporting Trump because they believe he would be preferable to Hillary. I also understand conservatives who are supporting Hillary — whom they have reviled since 1992 — because they believe she would be preferable to Trump. I myself am Neither Trump Nor Hillary. I will vote for an honorable third option, if there is one, or not vote at the presidential level, waiting for a better day.
And we cling to the bromide “a nation of laws, not men.” And we cling, as Barack Obama said, to our guns and religion. (Is Trump better than Hillary on the Second Amendment, by the way?) And we cling to Milton Friedman’s variation on Adam Smith: “There’s a lot of ruin in the United States of America.”
Whew, if true.