October 19, 2016


Conservative Legal Scholars Decide Trump Isn't Worth It : Some believe Trump's big-government ideas outweigh his potential Supreme Court appointments. (PEMA LEVY, OCT. 19, 2016, Mother Jones)

[F]or conservative and libertarian legal scholars who have dedicated their careers to an interpretation of the Constitution that promotes limited government, Trump presents a conundrum. On the one hand, he promises to appoint justices like Scalia, whom they generally admire. On the other hand, if his campaign is any indication, a President Trump would trample this same vision of the Constitution with his authoritarian tendencies, including his policies against the freedom of the press and in favor of banning all Muslims from entering the United States. So is a Trump presidency worth supporting for the sake of Trump Supreme Court appointments?

For 29 "originalist" legal scholars, the answer is no. Originalists, such as Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas, believe judges should interpret the Constitution as it was intended when written, rather than as a living, changing document. On Monday, the group released a letter titled "Originalists Against Trump," which laid out their reasons for opposing the Republican nominee. "Many Americans still support Trump in the belief that he will protect the Constitution," the letter states. "We understand that belief, but we do not share it."

The letter addresses the issue of the Supreme Court, stating, "We also understand the argument that Trump will nominate qualified judicial candidates." But the scholars add, "We do not trust him to do so. More importantly, we do not trust him to respect constitutional limits in the rest of his conduct in office, of which judicial nominations are only one part."

Many of the most prominent conservative and libertarian legal scholars signed the letter, including Steven Calabresi, who co-founded the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group. "If there is one person who in a certain sense typifies sort of the average Federalist Society member, it's hard to find someone who typifies it better than Steve Calabresi," says Ilya Somin, a libertarian professor at George Mason's Antonin Scalia Law School, who also signed the letter. Another signatory to the letter, law professor Jonathan Adler, is known as the legal mind behind the latest major legal challenge to Obamacare.

"The Supreme Court and the legal system have been one of the main arguments for holding one's nose and voting Trump," says Stephen Sachs, a Duke University law professor and one of the scholars who organized the letter. "I think it's important that people who feel that there are real problems with that argument speak up and say so. And I think that it was important that it come from a group of people who were committed to the original Constitution and to make clear that that is part of the ground of our objection."

Sachs was pleased that he was able to recruit legal heavyweights such as Calabresi to sign the letter. As a registered Republican who supported Marco Rubio in the primary, Sachs says he is willing to cast a strategic vote for Hillary Clinton if the polls in his home state of North Carolina--a swing state--show a close race.

No one genuinely believes he'd appoint qualified, nevermind conservative, judges. Look at his staff.

Posted by at October 19, 2016 3:55 PM