Leavin’ It All on the Court

By Sepand Salem, Staff Writer

Ooh! Ahh! Election day garnered reactions more akin to fans watching a wrestling match than a presidential election. It was a night full of surprises.

Most of the pundits, and as a result most of the voters, thought Hillary Clinton’s win inevitable. It even seemed as if Trump himself saw defeat in his future as he led up to the election warning his voters that if he lost, the only explanation could be that the polls were rigged.

This almost universal consensus was quickly dismantled as the electoral votes began to be called out. It was a full-on massacre, and Hillary Clinton was on the unfortunate end of it.

To dwell on this “upset” and keep exclaiming an utter disbelief at the outcome may seem attractive, however it is nothing but unproductive. Instead, it is best to accept the outcome and take the necessary steps towards understanding the long-lasting consequences of a Trump presidency.

Like it or not, “President Trump” will become a household moniker for years to come.

One of the most important outcomes of the election is the appointment of a new Supreme Court Justice.landmark-supreme-court-cases-1

In February of 2016, conservative Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia passed away. Among other things, Scalia’s passing left only eight justices in its wake.

This opened up a major opportunity for the four liberal leaning judges to split evenly with the four conservative leaning justices. An even split has the effect of reverting the case’s outcome back to the lower court’s decision.

This means that Scalia’s replacement will not only have the power to break deadlocks, but also to shift the court in their respective political direction.

Every president tries to leave behind a long lasting legacy when their time in office is over, but more often than not, the subsequent president makes decisions that negatively affect this legacy.

A recent example of this is Trump’s response to two legacy defining choices that President Obama made: the Iran nuclear deal and ObamaCare.Trump made the attack of these two policies a hallmark of his campaign, and now that he has been elected, their end looks to be in sight.

The volatility and fragility of presidential legacies leaves the permanence of a Supreme Court pick as a highly desirable commodity that prolongs a president’s influence for years to come.

A president’s impact can be fleeting, but a Supreme Court pick holds long-lasting consequences.

This is the very reason that Senate Republicans refused to even entertain Obama’s pick and even threatened not approving a Clinton pick for as long as she was in office.

Recognizing the importance of this decision, Trump has already provided a list of 21 potential picks who would further a conservative dominance in the Supreme Court. The President-elect described his list as having a conservative bend containing picks who are “pro-life” and strict constitutionalists.

Many are seeing a Trump presidency as one that will establish an overwhelming conservative Supreme Court which will lead to social issues such as gay marriage and abortion rights to be at risk. Trump’s frequent remarks about overturning Roe v. Wade, for example, are seen by many as nothing but dangerous rhetoric that looks to erase the many socially progressive strides of the time.

Thankfully, the presence of Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer and Anthony M. Kennedy ensures that the court’s ruling on sensitive social issues are secure.

Articles prophesying the impending doom of a Trump Supreme Court pick seem to be ubiquitous, however, many see this as an over exaggeration.

“I don’t think Trump’s pick will change the balance of the court more than when Antonin Scalia was there,” junior Jay Creamer said.

Trump himself has also explained that his picks will be made in the model of the late conservative justice.

In fact, he is almost forced to. Somewhat counterintuitively, the Senate Republicans will restrain Trump’s choices almost as much as they would have Hillary Clinton’s.

This will produce a sort of conservative paradigm: pro-life, free market-loving and a strict constitutionalist.

It is certainly too early to make predictions on the ultimate outcome, but given Trump’s clear disdain for convention, it could very well be a surprise.

In the end, regardless of who the pick may be, this decision marks the beginning of Trump’s impact on our country.

Photo from BBC.