by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
With Thursday’s official announcement by Justice Stephen Breyer of his impending retirement, conservatives are strategizing on the best approach to prevent confirmation of a leftist activist justice. Instead, Republicans should be praying that President Biden nominates the looniest, most far-left lawyer possible for a slot on the high court.
Why? Because history has proven that a far-left justice will be no worse than a moderately liberal justice in the casting of Supreme Court votes, meaning there is no downside to a far-left pick, while the upside potential is huge, given that it is Biden appointing the new justice and not a Republican president: Thank you very much, Never Trumpers.
While over the last four decades justices appointed by Republican presidents have demonstrated a penchant to “grow” in office or have proven more moderate or pragmatic than proclaimed during confirmation, the same is not true for Democrat-appointed justices, who vote in near-perfect lockstep over their careers.
Then there are the Republican-appointed justices who do not abandon their judicial philosophy, but conclude that a faithful application of originalism requires them to vote with the leftist wing of the court. Justice Neil Gorsuch provides a perfect example of this phenomenon, providing the fifth vote in several cases in the criminal context, and before him the now-late Justice Anton Scalia.
Conversely, in close or contentious cases, Democrat-appointed justices “represent a block geared toward progressive policy outcomes.” It matters whether these justices are perceived as center-left or hard-left: The desired liberal outcome dictates the decision. So fighting for a less leftist justice serves no purpose.
On the other hand, there are many positives to the conservative cause if Biden nominates a far-left candidate to the Supreme Court. With midterm elections later this year, Biden naming an extremist to the high court positions Republicans perfectly to talk about the importance of elections—and specifically control of the Senate.