WASHINGTON – Not so fast. Supporters of President-elect Donald J. Trump are boasting that their proposed nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court will change the political face of the high tribunal for more than a generation.
They are claiming their set of jurists will be in the mold of the late, archconservative Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. The right wing thinks the new Republican majority in the Senate will make that possible. Not quite. Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, the presumptive Democratic minority leader, will have something to say about that.
The Constitution says that the president’s court nominees can be confirmed by majority vote, and the Republicans will have that majority come January – 52 Republicans to 48 Democrats.
But there is a new tradition in the Senate on confirming disputed nominees for the courts. Rather than the 51 votes called for in the Constitution, 60 votes are needed to shut down a filibuster.
There is no way that Schumer will allow a white-hot Republican radical jurist to come to a floor vote without a filibuster that will block him or her.
Schumer’s office declined Thursday to comment on how he will conduct himself under Trump, other than to reissue Schumer’s call for peace and friendship.
Before the election, when Schumer hoped to become majority leader working for Democrat President Hillary Rodham Clinton, Schumer said one of his top priorities would be to put “progressive” (liberal) justices on the Supreme Court bench. That’s not going to happen now.
The genius of the writers of the Constitution is that consensus, cooperation, is now going to be the new order in the Senate, or nobody’s going to be confirmed for the high court for a long time, leaving it tied 4-to-4.
Both sides must be careful. While the Senate’s majority Republicans cannot force a vote for a disputed nominee on the Schumer Democrats, given the filibuster rule, neither can the Democrats appear to be arbitrary and unreasonable like the rioters in the streets of Seattle.
If the Democrats are, then they stand to lose even more Senate seats in 2018, when more Democratic seats than Republican are up for grabs in the next Senate election cycle.
Cooperation rather than conflict means, for example, that the four-decade-old Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the first trimester will continue to be settled law.
There are two boomlets relating to the Electoral – not electric – College making the rounds. Both are inspired by Democratic radicals whose core aim is the ultimate destruction of the Constitution.
The college has the final say on who gets to be president. Each state gets the same college votes as it has House members and senators. California gets 55; Alaska 3. Each elector pledges to vote the way his whole state did. If the electors abide by their promise, Trump will receive more than a majority – 306, and Clinton, 232.
The electoral votes cast in each state capital on Dec. 19 will be counted – making Trump the president, officially.
Since Clinton lost the electoral count, but won a popular majority, liberals want the electors to violate their pledge and elect Clinton.
This falls into the category of extremely unlikely, because this would require at least 38 electors to negate their pledge.
Leftists also want the provision creating the Electoral College repealed. This won’t happen because three-fourths of the states would have to agree to repeal. More than a fourth of the states have only four electors, or less. The Founding Fathers, fearing mob rule, frowned on direct presidential election. They were right: See Seattle and Portland.