Saturday, September 26, 2020

Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming

What did Donald Trump do today?

He nominated a judge to fill a Supreme Court seat after explicitly saying in public that he needed her to vote to keep him in power.

Today, Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In a deathbed plea, Ginsburg called it her "most fervent wish" that her seat not be filled until the next president was chosen. This would be in keeping with Trump's own support of denying then-President Obama from replacing a justice in an election year.

Of course, Trump is legally entitled to ignore Ginsburg's dying wish and his own position from 2016—even though the move is deeply unpopular with voters

But as Trump's campaign shifts almost entirely to preparing a narrative that his likely loss was somehow the result of a "scam" election, there is a serious problem with the nomination. Specifically, that Trump explicitly said he wanted his nominee on the court in time to break a potential 4-4 tie on any election-related issues. 

On Tuesday, in one of several recent comments on the matter, Trump said this:

I think it's better if you go before the election because I think this scam that the Democrats are pulling, it’s a scam, this scam will be before the United States Supreme Court. And I think having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation. If you get that. I don’t know that you’d get that. I think it should be eight-to-nothing or nine-to-nothing, but just in case it would be more political than it should be.

The "scam" Trump is referring to is voting by mail, which he himself has done a number of times.

In other words, Trump is afraid that Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, will rule against him if he tries to challenge the legitimacy of valid ballots cast through the mail—and so it's critical that he get what he considers a reliable pro-Trump "political" vote on the Court immediately.

Trump isn't wrong to think that the federal judiciary is politicized; in fact, that's been a campaign promise of his. But it's a crime to try to influence how a judge performs her duties, or to entice her to rule in your favor with the promise of something valuable—including the judgeship itself. 

Why should I care about this?

  • Nobody who thinks they will win an election fairly tries this hard to undermine it.