In Ernest Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises," Mike Campbell is asked how he went bankrupt. "Two ways," Mike said. "First gradually, then suddenly."
When considering the rise and sustained viability of the Donald TrumpDonald TrumpHannity tells Trump: I'm voting for you in November McConnell: ‘Ticket-splitting’ will preserve GOP Senate majority Romney signals interest in independent candidate MORE campaign, the Hemingway quote is almost too perfect to fathom; the richness of his words almost too delicious to consume. Because for those, like me, who earlier viewed the Trump campaign as nothing more than a distraction, then later just a frustrating nuisance, and who are now transitioning to full-blown panic as the reality of his likely nomination sets in, we are left asking ourselves, "How did this all happen so quickly?"
At the same time, there is an approaching reality traveling parallel to the Trump train, just not at quite the same, breakneck speed. The next president will most likely have the opportunity to reshape the Supreme Court for generations as three justices (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy) will be at least 80 years old on inauguration day. And Stephen Breyer isn't far behind, as he'll be celebrating birthday number 78.
The length of service and age of each points to the possibility that a President Trump will be charged with nominating up to four candidates to the court. Which begs the question: Whom would Trump consider as a replacement for any, or all?
As is usually the case with Trump, he's been exceedingly vague whenever the topic occasionally comes up. His sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry of the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, is the only name he's ever mentioned as someone he'd consider (albeit after being asked specifically about her by Bloomberg's Mark Halperin). A review by Frank Cannon at The American Spectator of Barry shows that she might not be the most pro-life (or even anti-infanticide, as Cannon notes) justice around, but hey, we're tired of holding Trump to some sort of arbitrary conservative litmus test, right?
So based on his public pronouncements and vacuous policy positions, I thought it might be a worthy exercise to match Trump's ideas for America's future with the legal minds who can most ably help him fulfill his promises.
While the sample size is admittedly small, there was a very wise legal scholar in 2000 who coordinated and carried out the removal of someone who wasn't supposed to be here. Eric Holder, deputy to Attorney General Janet Reno, was a major player in the 5 a.m. raid that captured and sent young Elián González back to Cuba. And to put a cherry on top of that very successful morning, the Immigration and Naturalization Service agents only had to point their weapons at the child briefly as they extracted him from a closet. Holder's experience in overseeing the event will be crucial to Trump as the court upholds the constitutionality of doing the same to millions.
Money in politics
Trump has repeatedly proclaimed his disdain for money in politics and the perceived negative effects of super-PACs on politicians, campaigns and elections. Overturning the recent court decisions that include Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC will require a nimble, yet experienced mind. Trump's best bet would be to turn to former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), father of several campaign finance reform efforts.
All the other stuff that will "make America great again"
In addition, Trump will need to find champions for several more of his campaign promises: He'll need an advocate to abolish the 14th Amendment, a real fighter to help him impose recession-inducing tariffs on American companies and foreign countries, and a malleable legal scholar that can argue for the right to seize foreign oil, Geneva Convention be damned.
Of course, there is the need to find someone who supports a president's right to arbitrarily impose capital punishment, seize private land for his own personal gain and his all-important duty to require every retail store to hang "Merry Christmas" signs, but those tasks should be easy to judiciously impose. Maybe Larry Tribe can tackle those minor tasks after he kicks Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) back "home" to Canada.
So, just as Trump's campaign and likely nomination have quickly become reality, so too will changes to the Supreme Court in the next few years. And just like Trump's ascendency, the transformation to a more progressive, left-leaning Supreme Court will come in two ways: First gradually, then suddenly.
Hale is a freelance writer who lives in San Antonio with his wife and three children.