The sad passing of Justice Antonin Scalia—who did more than any other member of the judicial branch over the past three decades to exercise judgment instead of will, thereby becoming one of our finest-ever “bulwarks of a limited Constitution“—makes the upcoming presidential election even more important. Ed Whelan writes at National Review Online that it has “been more than 80 years since a Supreme Court justice was confirmed in an election year to a vacancy that arose that year” and that “Senate Republicans would be grossly irresponsible to allow President Obama, in the last months of his presidency, to cement a liberal majority that will wreak havoc on the Constitution“—and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell seems to agree. Even assuming that Senate Republicans do their duty in this regard, however, the crucial vacancy will have to be filled soon enough.
A month ago, Bill Kristol wrote that the two issues on which Donald Trump is perhaps the most suspect and the most vulnerable are 1) Obamacare and 2) Supreme Court appointments. Referring to the latter, Kristol wrote the following about Trump:
“He knows the least about legal and constitutional matters, he has no record of speaking or leading on such issues (except on the question of Ted Cruz’s citizenship, for which he cited a leading liberal law professor, Laurence Tribe), and he has a sister who’s a liberal activist judge. The Supreme Court, and more broadly constitutional government, is an area of huge comparative advantage for Cruz, and to some degree for Rubio, who as a senator has at least voted against some liberal judges.”
One hopes that this will be a serious topic of discussion at tonight’s Republican presidential debate.