Sunday, July 1, 2018

Brian C. Joondeph: NeverTrumpers and a 5-4 Vote

June has been quite a month for President Trump. From the North Korea summit to a similar sit-down with Vladimir Putin next month. Four percent economic growth, statistical full employment, and high consumer confidence. A successful round of primary elections. And now the Supreme Court.
The Supremes affirmed the President’s travel ban against visitors and immigrants from dangerous countries that have no internal mechanisms for vetting migrants to the U.S. And then came the Janus decision, stating that public employees don’t have to pay money to unions to support political activities, effectively cutting off a major source of Democrat fundraising.
Both decisions passed by a slim 5-4 majority, the four liberal justices voting as a block as they almost always do, and Justice Anthony Kennedy providing one of the five majority votes, some say the swing vote. Although one might argue that the Chief Justice could have been the swing vote as he was in the Obamacare decision. Regardless, the vote was close, and one of the five justices could have turned the final decision in the opposite direction.
What would have happened if Hillary Clinton won the election? Instead of Neil Gorsuch, a Trump appointee, providing one of the five votes, we would have had a far-left justice appointed by Mrs. Clinton, joining their four liberal brethren in black robes, creating a 5-4 majority against the travel ban or union dues funding the Democrats.
Fortunately, Donald Trump won the election and a Clinton-stacked Supreme Court is only a hypothetical, more like a nightmare, but still far from the realm of reality. The voters spoke, many casting their votes with the Supreme Court in plain sight, knowing the implications of judicial activism.
Supreme Court decisions are generally permanent. Roe v. Wade is 45 years old and still the law of the land, despite being decided on dubious constitutional principles. Many presidents have come and gone since Roe was decided. Trump will come and go too, tweets and all, but his court nominees will be deciding cases long after Trump finishes his two terms as president.
This brings me to the NeverTrumpers, a group of so-called Republicans so incensed by Donald Trump’s style and demeanor, that they couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Many of those are now Trump supporters, perhaps on the tepid side, but nevertheless pleased with the Trump agenda and accomplishments to date.
Senator Mike Lee is an example. On the President’s short list of potential Supreme Court nominees, he voted for protest candidate, Evan McMullin, for president. This was a wasted effort and vote, and one that may come back to haunt him as Trump has a long memory.
Other NeverTrumpers, like many of the Bushes, voted for Hillary Clinton for president. Then there are the pundits still caterwauling over President Trump. From Bill Kristol and Max Boot to George Will and Bret Stephens. All former Republicans, perhaps in name only, now vehemently hostile to President Trump.
George Will, once a respected conservative columnist, has now beclowned himself with his NeverTrump vitriol. According to Will, Trump is a mistake of nature. Will’s solution to advance the conservative agenda is to “Vote the GOP out.” Trump is now the worst-ever president. He sounds like Maxine Waters.
I think George would gladly prefer a third term of Obama fundamentally transforming America or else a Madam President doing much the same. Some conservative he is.
If he and other NeverTrumpers got their wish, that Trump lost the election to Clinton, the Supreme Court would be a 5-4 majority by now, favoring the liberals. If she won, her appointee would likely not have been Merrick Garland, but instead someone far to the left like Laurence Tribe. What would that mean in light of recent Supreme Court decisions?
In recent cases, it would mean that Christian cakemakers have no religious freedom from supporting behavior antithetical to their beliefs. Union dues would still be a cash cow for Democrat candidates. The president would have no constitutional executive authority to secure the borders and vet immigrants.
There would be no chance of restraint or pulling back prior decisions on abortion or same-sex marriage, decided by the courts rather than by the people or their representatives, as it should have been decided. How long would the first and second amendments remain intact? Could the five liberal justices find portions of the Constitution unconstitutional? Bet on it. And by a 5-4 vote.
Aside from the court, taxes would still be high. North Korea would be building its nuclear arsenal as would Iran. ISIS would be flourishing. Foxconn would not be building an electronics plant in Wisconsin. Unemployment, particular for Blacks and Hispanics, would still be high.
Most assuredly we would not have “the hottest economy in the world,” as National Economic Council Chairman Larry Kudlow described it. Instead, Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” would be back in vogue.
How different would America be today if NeverTrumpers got their wish and Trump was defeated? Instead of electoral college votes, look at a much smaller voting block – the Supreme Court. One vote could fundamentally transform America in the manner of Obama’s dreams.
Trump is advancing the conservative agenda that these so-called conservatives have been wishing for for decades. On all fronts – foreign, domestic, economic, and judicial. Yet they continue to throw stones at Trump and his administration. Trump is making their dreams come true and they still despise him.
Inexplicable behavior with plenty of possible explanations. Trump’s demeanor and style. He is not one of them, part of their insider club. He comes from the wrong side of the tracks.
All this confirms that NeverTrumpers are shallow, a bunch of mean-girl teenagers, focused solely on style over substance. And if they got their way, what a different world we would have today. Including that 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court, with huge implications today and lasting decades or longer.
Brian C. Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver-based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook,  LinkedIn and Twitter.

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