Trump’s extreme makeover of the Supreme Court is now complete

On Monday night, President Trump, in his now customary practice of turning somber national choices into cheap show business stunts, announced Brett Kavanaugh as his choice to fill the Supreme Court seat of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Kavanaugh, currently serving on the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, is a white man from Yale University. His selection wasn’t much of a surprise. Court watchers spent the weekend avidly reading the tobacco leaves about which way Trump was leaning. His team reportedly sent out different smoke signals to different conservative groups, to maximize the ratings for Supreme Court Madness. But this choice was never about what kind of meat to have for dinner. It was about what precise cut of dead, originalist cow flesh to put on the grill. President Trump cribbed his shortlist from his arch-conservative paymasters at the Heritage Foundation and the Federalist Society, and it was populated exclusively by hardcore, right-wing fanatics. With Kavanaugh’s appointment, the Supreme Court is poised to entrench conservative power in this country for another long generation.

Those hoping Trump would bumble into nominating some might-be-liberal were obviously disappointed, but no one should be surprised. The conservative movement has been planning for this moment for decades, and there was no way they were going to get it wrong, especially when the president is an empty vessel who will do more or less whatever his backers tell him. That Kavanaugh cut his teeth on the Kenneth Starr investigation of Trump’s bete noir, former President Bill Clinton, could only have boosted his fortunes. And should questions of whether a sitting president can be prosecuted for crimes ever end up before the Supreme Court, Kavanaugh conveniently holds particularly expansive, Trump-friendly views on executive power.

Conservatives should be elated, because the appointment of a fifth originalist to the court imperils all manner of precedent, from abortion rights in Roe v. Wade to marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges. Kavanaugh will likely recite the same script about precedent that his predecessors have, but no one should be fooled: With this pick, it is likely that abortion will be illegal in many parts of the United States by next fall. It is always possible, of course, that Kavanaugh will arrive at the precipice of overturning Roe and decide that doing so would not be in the long-run political interest of the people who appointed him. But from this moment forward, it is assured that a challenge to Roe will be heard by this court, and that it will be one of the dominant issues of the 2020 campaign.

Beyond abortion, Kavanaugh will be a reliable conservative vote on everything from law-and-order issues to the Second Amendment. The chance that this Supreme Court will release America from its torment on gun control, mass incarceration, or campaign finance, for example, have been effectively reduced to zero. Instead, it now stands ready to deliberately rupture a series of national consensuses.

This dark day was fully predictable two years ago. A conservative seat was …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


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