October 7, 2016


Conservatives really want Donald Trump to save the Supreme Court. Instead, he'll ruin it. (Shikha Dalmia, October 7, 2016, The Week)

[S]etting aside the high-profile cases that both sides use to rally their base, on a day-to-day basis, partisan disagreements don't affect the court all that much. Tuttle notes that between January 2012 and June 2014, the Supreme Court ruled against the Obama administration unanimously 13 times -- on everything from recess appointments to abortion clinic "buffer zones." Nor was this an anomaly. Since 1995, more than 40 percent of cases were settled unanimously by the court.

Despite their ideological disagreements, justices are far more united than divided on the law. And presidents, by and large, have respected the independence of the judiciary and left the court alone to settle cases as it sees fit -- with some notorious exceptions like FDR. He famously threatened to force justices who struck down the New Deal into retirement and "pack the court" with more pliant ones.

Trump would be FDR on steroids. He savaged Judge Gonzalo Curiel's "Mexican" heritage because the judge didn't dismiss the case against Trump University. If something as low stakes as this can set Trump off, imagine what he'll do if the Supreme Court takes up a challenge to a signature issue of his presidency? A Trump presidency is likely to be a rolling wave of one manufactured constitutional crisis after another.

That, however, isn't likely to be President Trump's worst damage.

To the extent that Trump has a vision for the GOP, it is along the lines of Europe-style workers' parties (his term) such as France's National Front. This is an authoritarian, nationalistic, right-wing party whose main goal is to aggressively realign the economy around the interest of domestic workers by fanning the fires of xenophobia and protectionism. George Mason University's Ilya Somin points out that such a party will have no use for federalism, separation of powers, and individual rights. To the contrary, such commitments are likely to be an impediment to its goals.

Posted by at October 7, 2016 7:54 AM