I respectfully disagree with Erick on this. Though I would not at all be happy about it, I have decided that I would vote for Trump in a general election if he is the Republican nominee.
Let me first submit my anti-Trump bona fides, lest you think I am at all a fan of this man. I have elsewhere called Trump a “two-bit carnival showman” and a “big-government faux-conservative fraudster.” I sincerely believe, as do many, that he represents an existential threat to the American conservative movement. I do not trust him on pretty much anything—not even his signature issue of immigration. On a personal level, I think he is a crude and vile man.
For the past few months, I have struggled with this conundrum: could I possibly toe the party line and cast a vote for this anti-constitutional excrescence of American conservatism? Ultimately, I did not have to arrive at an answer, because something happened that made me realize the choice for me was straightforward.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative colossus, sadly passed away. In the U.S. Senate, Chuck Grassley and Mitch McConnell have sworn to hold the line until November. If they do not fold, then the very balance of power of the Supreme Court lies with this presidential election. Suffice it to say the stakes are very, very high.
Normally, of course, I would have borderline zero confidence in the quality of President Trump’s judicial nominations. But, as it stands, Trump actually recently spoke on this following the South Carolina debate, and he spoke quite well in identifying possible Scalia replacements: Judge Diane Sykes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and Judge William Pryor of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
I do not believe for a second that Donald Trump has any intellectual appreciation for conservative jurisprudence or for Justice Scalia’s life work in solidifying originalism as the juridical default for right-of-center jurists, but this was an excellent answer. Judge Pryor is a pro-life stalwart who has called abortion “murder” and referred to Roe v. Wade as “the worst abomination in the history of constitutional law.” Senate Democrats tried to block his nomination at the time, but were unsuccessful. Judge Sykes is a similar stalwart and a staunch originalist when it comes to constitutional interpretation.
The only takeaway here is that Trump has fed the base a couple of great talking points on the issue of Supreme Court nominations. I have no idea if he himself has any clue who these two judges actually are, but at minimum it shows he has the right people advising him. If we project only a little bit, then, it perhaps shows more of a willingness to be advised by the conservative Federalist Society when it comes to the field of judicial nominations.
The ideological balance of the Supreme Court is simply too important to ignore. I am not at all a fan of Donald Trump’s, but would vote for him in November for this one reason alone.
Of course, if Grassley and McConnell fold and take the issue off the table this November, I reserve the right to change my mind.
UPDATE: I have since changed my mind on this.