Saturday, December 12, 2020


Trump always talks about his judicial appointment record as if it's a tremendous accomplishment of his, something that wouldn't have happened under any other president. Here he is in a campaign speech in Pennsylvania on November 2:
[Audience member calls out "Amy Coney Barrett"] That's right, we put Amy on. You happy with Amy? Everyone loves Amy. Thank you. You know we do. They don't talk about that enough. They say it's the most important thing a president can do. So at the end of my first term, I will have approximately 300 federal judges, which is a big percentage of the judiciary. And three great Supreme Court Justices. That's a lot. Many presidents have gotten to choose none.
But that's not an accomplishment. That's luck, plus a great deal of manipulation, mostly on the part of others. Trump got to appoint these judges because Mitch McConnell held a Supreme Court seat for a Republican president, because Anthony Kennedy resigned (for whatever reason), and because Ruth Bader Ginsberg died. He appointed 300 lower-court judges because Republicans control the Senate and Mitch McConnell, the Federalist Society, and other right-wing activist groups have a judge-generating machine that runs like a Ferrari.

This is precisely what would have happened under any Republican president over the past four years. The appointee list would have been exactly the same, or nearly so. Trump didn't really participate in the selection process. He just took whoever was on offer.

And even if Hillary Clinton had become president and stayed on for eight years, and Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett had aged out of Supreme Court contention for the next Republican president (Republicans like to add justices to the court when they're young, so they'll be there for decades), the three would have had very nice lives as high-level federal judges with lifetime appointments. And they know that.

So they know that Trump didn't do them a tremendous favor. If they think anyone did them a big favor, it's Mitch McConnell or the FedSoc's Leonard Leo.

But Trump doesn't get that. He expected them to feel a debt.

We'd like to believe that they would have rejected the Texas case even if they'd personally regarded themselves as chosen by Donald Trump.

We'll never know for sure -- but it doesn't matter because they don't regard themselves that way. They were products of the right's judicial machine. So they don't feel they owe Trump anything. And he never understood that.

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