Why it’s risky to put your faith in a candidate’s Supreme Court predictions

President Donald Trump greets Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts as he arrives to deliver his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. | Leah Millis, Associated Press

Justices are often sorted into conservative and liberal factions, but those labels don’t mean the same thing on the court as they do in the real world.

SALT LAKE CITY — During election season, candidates often act as if they can predict the future, especially when it comes to the Supreme Court. But recent rulings on abortion and LGBTQ rights serve as a reminder that surprises are guaranteed.

In each decision, at least one justice appointed by a Republican president joined with the court’s four most liberal members to deal a blow to conservative interests.

Chief Justice John Roberts’ concurring opinion in the abortion rights case Monday enabled controversial restrictions on abortion providers to be overturned. And Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion extending employment nondiscrimination protections to gay and transgender workers, which Roberts also joined.

In the wake of these rulings, many of President Donald Trump’s most fervent supporters repeated a familiar refrain. They reminded voters of the significance of future judicial appointments, arguing that victories will come if Trump remains in charge of nominations.

“This ruling underscores the importance of elections,” said the Rev. Frank Pavone, who is the national director of Priests for Life and helps coordinate the Trump campaign’s outreach to Catholic voters, in a statement released after the abortion rights ruling.

Similar appeals helped carry the president to victory four years ago. More than one-quarter of Trump voters in 2016 said future Supreme Court nominations was the most important factor influencing their vote, according to The Washington Post.

Associated Press
Supreme Court Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch, left, and Brett Kavanaugh watch as President Donald Trump arrives to give his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol in Washington. Both men were appointed by Trump.

Then and now, many legal experts recommended against casting a vote in a presidential election with the Supreme Court in mind.

People who place their hope in future judicial appointments are asking for trouble, argued Marc DeGirolami and Kevin Walsh, who are both law professors, in a 2018 column for The New York Times.

“The Supreme Court cannot save a degraded culture, nor can it degrade a virtuous one — not too much in either direction, at least,” they wrote.

In other words, justices are shaped by the same forces that shape everyday Americans. As the country grows more accepting of various practices, such as same-sex marriage, so too does the Supreme Court, DeGirolami and Walsh wrote.

What this means is that justices evolve over the course of their time on the court. And, unlike presidents or senators, you can’t vote them out of office if …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Top stories


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