While running for president, Donald Trump released a list of judges he’d consider for the Supreme Court should he be elected. At the time, Trump’s credentials as a conservative were in doubt, and it ended up being a brilliant move to ease the minds of voters that Trump would put constitutional conservatives on the court.
But, according to John Hurd of Yahoo News, the abortion ruling “could further damage President Trump’s standing with conservatives.”
Conservatives had hoped that Roberts would agree to uphold the Louisiana provision. Such a ruling would have been seen as a signal that the Supreme Court was ready to strike down Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.
Monday’s ruling may bolster Trump’s conservative critics, who argue that he is not worth supporting despite the fact that he has appointed conservatives to the federal bench at a historic rate. These critics argue that while Trump may deliver the occasional conservative victory, his character is so flawed and his presidency is so unpopular that the wins are likely ephemeral.
Imagine someone arguing in 2012 that Barack Obama was “not worth supporting” because he didn’t do enough to fill vacancies in the judiciary, or because he hadn’t had the opportunity to nominate enough liberals to the court to turn it solidly to the left.
It wasn’t until several paragraphs later that Hurd acknowledged that the offending Republican-nominated justice here, John Roberts, wasn’t nominated by Trump, but by George W. Bush, which contradicts his entire argument that the ruling might “damage Trump’s standing with conservatives.” Are these voters now more likely to stay at home, or vote for Biden, because John Roberts’ ascension as the court’s swing vote has resulted in a number of rulings conservatives disagree with?
How many cases have resulted in favorable rulings with the help of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh? I have no idea, honestly, but you can bet that had Scalia’s seat gone to Merrick Garland and Kennedy’s seat gone to a Hillary Clinton pick, the court would have a decisive left-wing majority.
Trump’s record with the judiciary has been unmatched. The Senate has confirmed 200 federal judges nominated by President Trump—effectively remaking the judiciary. There are likely going to be at least two vacancies on the Supreme Court in the next four years. The chance for a solid conservative majority is within reach, and Republican voters aren’t going to be discouraged from voting for Trump because of Chief Justice John Roberts.
When I look at some of the most disappointing 5-4 rulings on the court in recent years, my disappointment is not with President Trump, but President George W. Bush, who nominated Roberts to the Supreme Court. I enthusiastically supported Roberts at the time, but he’s repeatedly proven himself to be a disappointment… I don’t suspect other conservative voters are going to take their disappointment in Roberts out on Trump in November. If anything, Roberts’ status as a swing vote on the court is more likely to motivate conservative voters because they know the best chance they have to ensure a conservative majority on the court that respects the Constitution is to make sure Trump is reelected.
Matt Margolis is the author of Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy and the bestselling book The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis