Donald Trump has been nursing yet another grudge as he squats in the Oval Office: the Supreme Court that keeps thwarting him. He wants a fix figuring that a last-minute Supreme Court appointment would give him a big political boost ahead of November’s election. At least, that’s what CNN’s sources are saying. Trump believes, they say, he “could galvanize both his loyal base but also provide an opportunity to improve his standing among those voters whose support he is now hemorrhaging, people familiar with Trump’s thinking said.” That he’s been thinking about it was clear in his coronavirus fest in Tulsa a few weeks ago. “We have two justices of the Supreme Court—Justice Gorsuch, Justice Kavanaugh, they’re great,” he said in the Tulsa rally. “We have two and we could get a few more. Yeah. We could get a few.”
He’s thinking maybe he could make inroads with women voters if he installs a woman because he doesn’t understand anything. He thinks maybe he could get older voters back if he got a younger Clarence Thomas or Samuel Alito there, securing one of those seats for longer. That’s likely his only chance, because Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer will hang on as long as necessary to prevent him getting either of their seats. (Conduct whatever Ginsburg longevity ritual you’ve adopted now, please.) This does, however, raise an interesting specter for a Senate debacle. Would Mitch McConnell—and the cadre of very vulnerable Republicans senators he’s got—go along with rushing through a nominee in the midst of a pandemic they’re ignoring after what they did to Merrick Garland? Because that’s some political suicide right there. You want to motivate a Democratic base? That’s how.
In the meantime, enjoy the thought of Trump seething and ranting and ignoring his daily briefings while he stews on this. “So far we’re not doing too well,” he told the Christian Broadcasting Network last week. “We’ve had a lot of losses with a court that was supposed to be in our favor. This is just to show what it means: you’ll probably have a couple of more judges in the next four years. It could even be more than that, could be three or four. If you have a radical left group of judges, religion, I think, will be almost wiped out at America.” He had to tag that little bit on the end there when he remembered the outlet he was talking to. At America.
“These horrible & politically charged decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives,” Trump tweeted after he lost on the DACA case. “We need more Justices or we will lose our 2nd Amendment & everything else. Vote Trump 2020!” Why he channeled Dick Cheney in that moment is a mystery. But, clearly, the man is getting obsessive.
As far as we know, the court packing scheme cooked up by McConnell and Trump pal Lindsey Graham to talk older conservative judges into retiring now to make room for young conservatives hasn’t extended to the Supreme Court. It’s hard to imagine either Thomas or Alito being vulnerable to that kind of pressure campaign. They’ve reached the pinnacle, they’re not going to let the likes of Graham or McConnell badger them off of it.
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