Trump calls for ‘new justices’ on Supreme Court after unfavorable rulings
President Trump on Thursday escalated his criticism of the Supreme Court after a pair of rulings this week against his administration, calling for new justices to be appointed and pledging to release a new list of potential nominees ahead of November’s presidential election.
“The recent Supreme Court decisions, not only on DACA, Sanctuary Cities, Census, and others, tell you only one thing, we need NEW JUSTICES of the Supreme Court,” Trump tweeted just hours after the court ruled against his move to rescind deportation protections for young undocumented immigrants.
…Religious Liberty, among many other things, are OVER and GONE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 18, 2020
In a separate tweet, Trump said he would release a list of potential Supreme Court nominees by Sept. 1, similar to the one he published during the 2016 campaign that won over support of skeptical conservatives.
“If given the opportunity, I will only choose from this list, as in the past, a Conservative Supreme Court Justice,” Trump tweeted. “Based on decisions being rendered now, this list is more important than ever before (Second Amendment, Right to Life, Religous Liberty, etc.) — VOTE 2020!”
Trump’s tweets seized on frustration among many conservatives after two high-profile Supreme Court decisions this week that went against the administration’s wishes and signaled the president may try to make the courts a key issue once again in the 2020 race.
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled, 6-3, that employees cannot be fired for being gay or transgender. The administration had supported the employers ahead of that decision, arguing that the Civil Rights Act does not cover sexual orientation or gender identity.
On Thursday, the court ruled, 5-4, that Trump had illegally ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
In both cases, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the court’s four liberal justices. Justice Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, sided with the majority in Monday’s ruling and wrote the majority opinion.
The court has ruled in favor of Trump on a number of key legal issues. Prior court rulings have allowed Trump to use military funding for his border wall and upheld a number of controversial policies that restrict immigration into the United States.
Thursday’s direct criticism of the courts and pledge to make it more conservative mirrors Trump’s 2016 strategy, when his campaign sought to use the courts as a central issue to win over conservatives turned off by the candidate’s rhetoric. The strategy proved effective, as exit polls showed the vacancy left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia was among the most important factors for Trump voters.
The president and his aides have consistently highlighted Trump’s appointment of conservative judges as one of his most notable accomplishments.
Trump has appointed two Supreme Court justices during his first term. Gorsuch was nominated and confirmed in 2017, and Justice Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed in 2018 after a hostile nomination process.
Trump cannot appoint another justice unless a sitting member dies or retires. None of the liberal justices have indicated they are preparing to retire, and Justice Clarence Thomas, 71, dismissed rumors of his impending retirement last year.
Republicans including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (S.C.) have publicly urged older judges on other federal courts to consider retiring before Election Day in order to ensure that they are replaced by a GOP president and Senate.
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