by Jamie Barker
On June 26th, the Supreme Court had some very large news come out that perfectly illustrates the importance of elections and the lasting impact they have long after an elected official is out of office.
The Supreme Court ruled that public-sector labor unions cannot require dues to non-union members and dealt the biggest blow to union power in decades. It was a 5-4 decision that could have easily been a 5-4 decision in favor of unions if Hillary Clinton had become President.
For people like myself, the last few months have shown that no matter his tweets or… unique style, President (then candidate) Trump’s potential pick(s) to the Supreme Court were the largest issue of the 2016 Presidential and Senate elections, and our votes have certainly proved their return on investment. Neil Gorsuch’s spot on the bench has been critical to free speech, religious liberty, and now freedom of association. He had shoes to fill that likely no one can, but so far, Justice Gorsuch has proven a worthy successor to Antonin Scalia.
If you thought that was the biggest SCOTUS news of the day, hold on to your MAGA hat. Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring, which provides President Trump with his second appointment to the nation’s high court in just his first two years. Unfortunately, however, we must all remember the Biden rule and the withholding of confirmation for Merrick Garland in 2016 until we knew the outcome of the elections, right?
In the ever eloquent and often silk-tongued words of Donald Trump, “WRONG.” No matter how much Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats squawk, this is not an analogous situation. And even if it were, I don’t think they would pragmatically prefer the outcome. Why is this different? Look no further than 2010.
In President Obama’s first term, he was able to make two appointments to the Supreme Court, the second one coming right before his first mid term election. The president nominated Elena Kagan, and the Senate then confirmed her. The “Biden Rule” (the reason Senate Republicans withheld confirmation of Merrick Garland before the 2016 election) refers to Presidential election years. Facts aside, Democrats will attempt to make McConnell’s press to confirm whoever Trump appoints a sign of typical D.C. doublespeak and surely a commentary on the Senate GOP’s expectations of the November elections.
Wrong again, Chucky. There are ten states with incumbent U.S. Senators where Donald Trump won in 2016. I’ll go ahead and say I’m confident we won’t win all ten, but since we are only defending two Senate seats that Hillary narrowly won, it seems more than likely the U.S. Senate stays at a minimum as red as it is currently. There will be states like Texas and Arizona where shifting demographics, strong candidates and other factors require more attention than usual, but Democrat held Senate seats in West Virginia, Montana, North Dakota, Florida, Missouri, Indiana and Ohio all seem like very feasible pick-ups. Other states like Michigan (where hopefully our candidate will be John James, the African-American WestPoint grad-turned-CEO who is a decorated Army Ranger) will be outside possibilities with the right nominee and timing.
Even if McConnell decided to avoid being called mean names and withheld hearings until after the election, Republicans are well positioned to expand our majority in the Capital’s upper chamber and confirm a Trump nominee, even if more moderate Senate Republicans withheld their vote for whatever bad reason.
Elections have consequences. Regardless of what Republicans think of President Trump, conservatives would like to see a truly conservative court for the first time in a long time. Neil Gorsuch was a defensive pick – while a great justice so far, he just replaced another great constitutionalist. This time we get to play offense and potentially change the landscape.
If Trump’s second pick is anything like his first, it’s gonna get ugly in the Senate, but we’ll come out the other side with a newly conservative court. The Bill of Rights would be safer, legislating from the bench would cease and issues that have long been accepted as settled precedent could receive a much needed second look. At this point, I am not sure if we can even reach a stage that winning begins to get old, but I sure hope we keep pushing the envelope. I’m not sick of it yet.
(Each month, Arkansas Money & Politics will feature exclusive op-eds provided by members of the Republican Party of Arkansas. For the party’s latest, click here, only on AMP.)
Jamie Barker is the communications director for Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s reelection campaign and serves as the Chairman of the Arkansas Federation of Young Republicans. He has worked for Sen. Tom Cotton, former Gov. Mike Huckabee and the Republican Party of Arkansas. He is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University with a degree in Biology. Jamie is was born and raised in Smackover, but he now resides in Little Rock with his wife, Allie, and their three sons: Luke, Tucker and Tripp.