Here Comes the Judge

President Trump (I still can’t believe it) will announce his nominee for the Supreme Court tomorrow night at 8pm. He had planned to do it Thursday, but over the weekend escalated the timeframe. I am sure, in part, it was because of the immigration executive order controversy. He is changing the subject.

Neil Gorsuch of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and Thomas Hardiman of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals are the two finalists. Based on everything everyone is hearing, including several ABC News reports, I suspect it will be Gorsuch. But this is Donald Trump we are talking about. Tomorrow night at 8pm is an eternity for this administration and we could get to 7pm tomorrow and suddenly find Justice Willett at the White House waiting to be nominated.

Between Gorsuch and Hardiman, I do think President Trump should go with Gorsuch. Hardiman is more of a blank slate and has not been tested on all the issues Gorsuch has. Additionally, this is Antonin Scalia’s seat, not Anthony Kennedy’s seat. The records of the two men indicate Gorsuch would bring more intellectual firepower to the bench in the spirit of Scalia. Hardiman would undoubtedly be an improvement over Kennedy, but his record does not suggest he is the best fit for Scalia’s seat.

Many evangelical conservatives rallied to Donald Trump because of the Supreme Court above any other issue. Many conservatives who did not want Donald Trump rallied to him after his nomination to save the Court. Because of that support, choosing Hardiman over a Gorsuch or even a Mike Lee for Antonin Scalia’s seat is problematic.

Republicans should swing for the fences on saving Antonin Scalia’s seat. Gorsuch’s record makes him look like a wiser choice. Mike Lee would be a wiser choice. If Gorsuch or Lee cannot get through the United States Senate with Republicans in control and Harry Reid’s precedent of abolishing the filibuster for lower court nominees, the GOP might as well call it a day and go home. Going for the more nebulous, less sure thing conservative nominee, would be an admission against interest that the Republicans in the Senate do not think they can get through a staunch conservative.

Frankly, if Donald Trump gets Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and maybe even a Sykes or a Pryor or a Justice Willett (!!), he will have done more to spare the United States from leftwing catastrophe than any Republican President since Reagan. And considering Reagan gave us Kennedy, Trump would be outpacing that.

The one guaranteed thing we know for sure is that whomever Donald Trump puts on the Supreme Court, his chorus of supporters will declare it the best, wisest, most conservative, most strategic, most confirmable pick since George Washington was President, no matter how good or bad the nominee actually is.

The Supreme Court Short List Is Shorter

Jan Crawford at CBS News is hearing exactly what I am hearing. Sources tell me that the White House is rapidly shrinking its list of Supreme Court nominees. The favorite right now is Neil Gorsuch of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. He is 49 years old, was thought of highly by Antonin Scalia, clerked for Anthony Kennedy and, like Scalia, is seen as someone who can influence Kennedy, and is solidly conservative. He in a solidly intellectual conservative, which is the role Antonin Scalia served on the Court.

I am told that Bill Pryor is not out of the running, but there are a number of considerations for going with a Gorsuch first and Pryor later. In particular, though internally no one doubts that Pryor is solidly conservative, externally, he makes some social conservative bristle over two cases, one of which involved transgender rights and the other involving a Christian thrown out of a school for her views on homosexuality. Pryor is considered one of the most conservative appellate court judges and the cases giving social conservatives concern really should not. But, Gorsuch is five years younger and could have staying power and is a better intellectual fit for Scalia’s seat.

The various considerations and trial balloons are still floating and in play. The truth is that any person on the list Donald Trump has would be a solid conservative we can be proud of. It is also worth noting that Trump may very well get a second pick before the year is out.

Lastly, Republicans in the Senate will abandon the filibuster to make this happen as payback for the Democrats’ scuttling of the filibuster for seats lower than the Supreme Court.