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Juan Williams: Trump’s Supreme Court power grab


One of the first questions at Tuesday night’s presidential debate is sure to be about the far-right’s frantic rush to get a Trump nominee added to the Supreme Court with the election little more than a month away.

But there is a bigger question.

Can we now stop playing games?

{mosads}Let’s just accept that every opinion from the high court is now nothing more than a Republican or Democrat majority spinning the law to fit the political agenda of the red or blue team.

President Trump’s actions remove all pretense about justices as impartial, learned people upholding the law. This is an exercise in brute politics.

What we have now at the very top of the American judicial system are nine politicians wearing the robes of Supreme Court justices.

This fits with Trump transforming the Centers for Disease Control from a trusted source of information on heath to a political agency being used to minimize his failed handling of a pandemic.

It fits with Attorney General William Barr using the Justice Department to protect Trump and his pals — from Michael Flynn to Roger Stone — while looking to produce damaging charges against Democrats.

It fits with Trump undermining public trust in the FBI and CIA after they found evidence of Russian interference to help him in both the 2016 election and the current election.

Much of that can be repaired over time beginning with a new president.

But the Supreme Court is different.

Supreme Court justices get lifetime appointments.

And in a country founded on the idea that it is a nation of laws, a lack of trust in the Supreme Court’s ability to be impartial portends long-term damage.

A Gallup poll taken earlier this year found that just 40 percent of Americans say they have either a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the Supreme Court. A much greater number, 58 percent, said they had only “some” or “very little.”

Keep in mind, Trump has no mandate to dismantle trust in the court.

To the contrary, he is a president who lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes. His job approval rating has never reached 50 percent in the RealClearPolitics polling average.

If you want to rip out your hair, consider that if Trump’s latest nominee is confirmed it will mean that 15 of the last 19 Supreme Court justices have been named by Republican presidents.

This tyranny of the minority — there are more Democrats in America than Republicans — led Ian Millhiser to write in Vox: “If Trump fills the Ginsburg seat, fully one-third of the Court [the three justices put on the court by Trump] will be controlled by judges with no democratic legitimacy.”

Several polls done last week showed a clear majority of Americans think the current opening on the court should be filled by the winner of the November election.

A Reuters/Ipos poll has 62 percent saying the next president deserves to make the nomination. That includes 49 percent of Republicans who say the nomination is best left for after the election.

A Morning Consult/Politico poll had 50 percent of registered voters agreeing that the winner of the 2020 race should get to pick the nominee.

And Rasmussen, often favorable to Trump, also found 51 percent of likely voters saying that the winner of the election is the right person to make the pick for the court.

Public opinion in opposition to Trump filling another Supreme Court seat before the election also reflects the political games he played with his first two picks.

Trump got to name his first Supreme Court appointment, Justice Neil Gorsuch, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) brazenly broke with any notion of fair play.

{mossecondads}With 10 months remaining in President Obama’s tenure, McConnell denied Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, even a hearing.

That set the stage for Trump’s second nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

He is less known for his legal work than as a pitbull, partisan lawyer. He made a name on Kenneth Starr’s legal team that investigated President Clinton’s sexual misconduct.

Now we have Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, a polarizing Republican judicial activist hostile to abortion rights and government regulation of big industry.

If Barrett is confirmed, there is nothing stopping the new 6-3 conservative majority on the Court from overturning Roe v. Wade and denying millions of American women the right to an abortion.

The new Trump majority on the Court could also move to roll back same-sex marriage and legal protections prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ Americans.

There is nothing to stop Trump’s team on the court from striking down the Affordable Care Act and legal protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Democrats are on the verge of being run over on the Supreme Court. But the Founding Fathers and their heirs will mourn the loss of an independent judiciary.

Juan Williams is an author, and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

Tags Barrett nomination Brett Kavanaugh Donald Trump Merrick Garland Mitch McConnell Neil Gorsuch Roger Stone Supreme Court William Barr

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