Donald Trump should choose his nominee from the 2016 list—not from the recently expanded list. Republicans all seem to agree that Trump should nominate immediately, but whom he should choose has less consensus. The two front runners are reported to be Judge Amy Coney Barret and Judge Barbara Lagoa. Judge Barrett has widely been assumed to be the likely nominee to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat, and between these two women, Trump should nominate Judge Barrett. Whatever Judge’s Lagoa’s qualifications, she was not on the list in 2016. The President made a promise when he was candidate Trump, he can’t break his word now.
The President has a contract with America—Trump’s SCOTUS List. The original list was part of Trump’s pitch to the nation in 2016, when the Supreme Court was one of the primary motivating factors in that election. Trump released the list to the public many months before the election and committed to choose someone from that list if the American people put their trust in him. Americans considered the list and elected Donald Trump to the White House. The 2016 list of Supreme Court nominees is not just Trump’s list, it has been vetted and ratified at the ballot box by the American people.
Those persons added to Trump’s list recently—however qualified—are part of his pitch to the American people for the second term. The expanded list is Trump’s proposed contract, which I have every expectation the nation will accept, but it is not the contract under which we are operating now. If Trump were to choose someone only recently added to his expanded list, it would be substantively the same as straying from the list in 2018 to nominate someone not on the list—Trump would be breaking the contract. He would be breaking the promise he made to choose a nominee from the list he presented to voters in 2016. Should another vacancy arise on the Supreme Court during his second term, the expanded list could be used, but until the election, anything but a choice from his 2016 list is a breach.
Trump should ignore anyone who is unwisely urging him to consider his electoral prosects. He will take Florida regardless, and the President’s power to choose the nominee for the Supreme Court should be above politics.
The nation, both Trump’s supporters and haters, have expected Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement to be Barrett for some time now, and she has been doubly approved by the American people. She is on the original 2016 list, so the country accepted her when it agreed to its contract with Trump, but they reaffirmed that choice when, in 2018, voters expanded the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate. In a surprise move, Trump should pivot from his penchant for unpredictability, and nominate Barrett, because with that choice he carries with him the full force of the American electorate.
Additionally, Republicans shouldn’t stop playing hardball—we should press the advantage and protect our nominee. With Barrett, the ghastly abuse that is the confirmation process right now can be mercifully streamlined. Because everyone knew Barrett was the likely replacement for Ginsburg, she received a SCOTUS level scorching from the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017, where her Catholic faith provoked the Democrats to attempt an unconstitutional religious litmus test. Barrett should only have to go through a very quick day of hearings and the nomination should be put to a vote.
Donald Trump made a contract with America. Although an updated contract is pending review and acceptance, we are still operating under the terms proposed and agreed upon in 2016. Promises made, promises kept is more than a slogan, it is a reality that has fueled Trump’s stratospherically successful first term, it will propel him to the White House, and it will Make America Great Again in a second term. He can’t stop now, right at the eleventh hour. Donald Trump vowed to choose a nominee from the 2016 list, and he should nominate Amy Coney Barret to the High Court.