President Donald J. Trump (R-New York) just told the world he thinks Republicans are doomed to major defeats over the next few years and nobody noticed.
Trump did this by defending Alabama Republican Senate Roy S. Moore candidate in front of reporters on 21 November. The Donald told reporters he believes Moore’s denial of statutory rape allegations; and wants the controversial ex-judge in office, at the White House turkey pardoning circus, The New York Times reported.
“We don’t need a liberal person in there, a Democrat, Jones,” Trump said of Moore’s opponent Doug Jones, at the event. “I’ve looked at his record. It’s terrible on crime. It’s terrible on the border. It’s terrible on the military.”
If that was not enough Trump even told reporters he might travel to Alabama and campaign for Moore. An action that can damage the President’s own reelection chances in 2020.
The Real Reason Trump is Helping Roy Moore – It’s the Courts
What is Trump doing here, why is he defending a man accused of having sex with teenaged girls? A candidate he himself opposed just a few short months ago and refused to talk about days ago. More importantly, why is the Donald risking his reputation and career to help Moore?
The answer lies in conservative fears about the future and the federal court system. Basically, a lot of conservatives fear that The Emerging Democratic Majority; the theory that Democrats and progressives will soon have enough votes to control Congress and the Presidency is correct.
The November-7, 2017, midterm elections lend credence the idea, Democrat Ralph Northam won the Virginia governor’s race by 8.9%. Elsewhere, Republicans lost control of every state legislature on the West Coast by losing one state senate seat in the Seattle suburbs. More tellingly, around 59% of voters in Maine supported a Medicaid expansion plan despite intense Republican opposition.
Conservative leaders like the Koch brothers fear that these losses might be the beginning of massive Republican decline at the ballot box. Therefore to preserve their agenda they have come with a Plan B – pack as many as conservative judges into the federal courts as fast as possible.
The Republican Court Packing Scheme that Explains Trump’s Support for Roy Moore
The Republicans need Moore’s Senate vote to make a massive new court-packing scheme a reality. Former Obama and Clinton White House aide Ronald A. Klain detailed the scheme in an interesting November 21, Washington Post column.
“If conservatives get their way, President Trump will add twice as many lifetime members to the federal judiciary in the next 12 months (650); as Barack Obama named in eight years (325),” Klain wrote. The hope is that those judges will be able to stop, delay, or gut legislation enacted by future Democratic Congresses.
Trump has wasted no time in trying to fill 103 vacancies on the federal bench, Klain pointed out. The Donald has already nominated 58 judges to federal trial and appellate courts in his first nine months in office. His predecessor Barrack Obama (D-Illinois) only nominated 20 judges during his first nine months in office.
“As a result, by sometime next year, one in eight cases filed in federal court will be heard by a judge picked by Trump,” Klain wrote. “Many of these judges will likely still be serving in 2050.”
If that was not enough law Professor Steven G. Calabresi; a founder of the conservative Federalist Society would like to go even further. In a paper called Undoing President Barack Obama’s Judicial Legacy Calabresi proposed adding 260 to 447 new federal judicial positions, and increasing the number of federal judges by 30% to 50% in a year.
Scared Republicans are Rushing to Pack the Courts
Republicans would not be in such a rush to pack the courts if they thought they would control Congress in 2019 – or the White House in 2021.
Trump and some of those around him might sense that a wave of Democratic victories is coming. For all his faults, the Donald seems to have a pretty good grasp of voter sentiment, and he might sense a major turn against conservatives.
Another possibility is that Trump has access to next-generation artificial intelligence technology from organizations like Cambridge Analytica, which can reportedly make very accurate analyses of voter sentiment. The Trump campaign used Cambridge Analytica data during last year’s campaign. The same AI might have predicted that a major GOP loss is imminent.
To pack the courts Republicans will need every vote they can get in the Senate – even Moore’s. Currently, the GOP has a 52-seat majority in the U.S. Senate, but that advantage is questionable because a number of those Republican Senators are unreliable moderates and leftists.
Polls put Moore in a statistical tie with Jones in the Alabama Senate race scheduled for 12 December 2017, WBRC reported. That means Republicans might have a one-seat majority in January; which would make court-packing impossible. That explains Donald’s change of heart and ensures that Air Force One will soon be touching down in Alabama.
Have Republicans Concluded they will lose the Senate Next Year
The GOP also fears that they will lose more Senate seats next year. A likely loss is Arizona where conservative Jeff Flake is not seeking reelection. To make matters worse, that state’s other Republican Senator John McCain is probably dying of brain cancer, so Democrats might pick up two seats there.
That means the GOP might lose their Senate majority; and ability to appoint conservative judges, as early January 2019. A likely development is that a Democratic majority in the Senate would block any Trump judicial appointments by using the same obstruction tactics Republicans used against Obama’s nominations. This gives the Republican court packers a window of less than a year to achieve their goal.
Republicans fear that they might not get the chance to appoint large numbers of federal judges for a generation. Conservatives fear that left-wing Democrats will soon have control of both houses of Congress and the White House.
Under that scenario, packing the courts makes a lot of sense for Republicans. It also explains why a President who needs conservative backing; particularly that of big donors such as the Koch brothers, is so anxious to support Roy Moore.
One has to wonder how far this politicization of the courts will go and how Democrats will react to it. How will Republicans react if left-wing Democrats attempt the same court-packing strategy in 2021?
This also brings us to a bothersome question for Trump supporters. Has Donald concluded that he cannot win in 2020, and plans not to run? It might explain why his obsession with short-term objectives such as court packing, and support of Moore.