What are the implications for a Supreme Court painted in Donald Trump's image?
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
A Supreme Court justice is not just for Christmas, they are for life. A president may only have a minimum four years in the White House, but his nomination for the highest court in the United States can last a generation.
"Presidents come and go, and their policies can swiftly be reversed, as Trump has demonstrated in seeking to erase much of Barack Obama's legacy," the Guardian writes. Justices are, however, appointed to the Supreme Court for life, which "plays an outsized role in American life compared with equivalent bodies around the world".
Donald Trump has already made an impact on the judiciary by nominating ultra-conservative Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. A decision that has lasting implications. The president now has another chance to change the fabric of the Supreme Court, a decision that will impact the US long after Trump leaves office. It is a political earthquake, where the aftershock could still ring for generations.
The president will be picking the second Supreme Court justice of his administration after Anthony Kennedy's retirement from the highest court after 30 years. This provides Trump with the chance to shift the nine-person court rightward for decades.
The reality TV show president is keeping his audience in suspense, trailing the announcement of his nomination as though it is a new series of The Apprentice. From the east room of the White House at 9pm (EST), Trump will name a new justice.
With Kennedy retiring, he takes away his swing vote, and Trump's choice will cement a 5-4 majority on the court for conservatives. Along with Trump's aggressive efforts to appoint judges to other federal courts, it will "ensure that the imprint of his contentious presidency will endure long after he has left office", CNN argues.
Trump's pick, they add, will "further empower the conservative backlash against progressive victories of the Obama era". These include gay rights, immigration and health care legislation. It will potentially have an impact on abortion rights, gun rights, the role of religion in public life, a more restrictive interpretation of civil rights legislation, and loosening regulations for big business.
The choice of a Supreme Court justice is a partisan issue - and increasingly so in recent years. While only seven out of 15 nominees for the court have received more than 30 votes in opposition, four of them were the most recent confirmed justices. "In large part," the Washington Post explains, "because members of the opposing party have been less willing to support presidents' nominees." Since George W. Bush nominated John G. Roberts Jr. in 2005, no nominee has received more than a quarter of supportive votes from the party that didn't control the White House.
While the judiciary and the White House ought to be separate, the Supreme Court is a political institution with certain leans. Under Trump, it will lean to the right - and it will have lasting implications beyond his controversial presidency. Donald Trump has been able to paint the Republican party in his image, and now it is the turn of the Supreme Court, a decision that could last generations.