Anthony Kennedy strikes a blow for Donald Trump
In a 5-3 vote (not the 4-4 tie that had been expected), the Court reinforced the imaginary Constitutional right to abortion by striking down a Texas law requiring abortion clinics to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers and that abortion providers have admitting privileges at a hospital within thirty miles. Apparently, even the health of women having abortions is less important than as many abortions being performed as possible.
But the most significant impact of the decision may have nothing to do with abortion as such. The one compelling argument supporters of Donald Trump have for social conservatives to vote for their candidate is the number of vacancies likely to open up on the Court in the next four years. It's difficult to argue with the premise that for Hillary Clinton to fill them would be a Constitutional and moral disaster for America from which it might not ever recover. As unstable and unpredictable and unprincipled as Trump is, they argue, he has at least promised to appoint justices who would halt the subordination of the Constitution to the imaginations and social preferences of the sort of justices who have effectively turned the Court into an unelected, standing Constitutional convention.
It's the one argument for Trump, to be honest, that gives me pause. It very nearly persuades me to hold my nose, vote for Trump, and hope for the best. But ultimately turning power over to a man like Trump is unthinkable. His only principle seems to be his own empowerment and aggrandizement. He is is an even more pathological liar than Hillary, His emotional immaturity and compulsion to prove to others (but mostly to himself) that he is not a "loser" like prisoners of war and others he holds in self-serving contempt makes me shutter at the thought of his finger being on the button and the American military at the disposal of his tantrums. He actually once promised to force American servicemen and women to violate their oaths and the law and commit war crimes by targeting the innocent families of terrorists. His racial insensitivity, if not outright bigotry, is so spontaneous and genuine and whose religious hypocrisy is so blatant that I don't see how he can possibly be trusted to keep his oath of office. He stands at the head of a movement which includes the Ku Klux Klan and its allies. He personally embraces many of the tinfoil-hat conspiracy theories of our nation's craziest extremists. His election would be unthinkable even if he didn't embrace an isolationist foreign policy which would put our national security at risk and seriously endanger world peace.
No. I can't do it. I won't vote for Hillary, and I can't bring myself to vote for Trump. Not even to save the Court. And after all, Hillary Clinton- whose election, likely along with a Democratic Senate which would doubtless refuse to confirm any decent Supreme Court nominee in any case- will only be in office for four years. Her age, her personal abrasiveness and divisiveness, and history- not since Reconstruction has either party won four consecutive presidential elections- all promise that the Republican president who would have been elected this year had anybody but Trump (and maybe Ted Cruz or Ben Carson) been nominated will have an even stronger likelihood of being elected in 2020.
Who knows, really, how many of those vacancies Hillary will actually get to fill? Well. ok. Too many, I admit. And yes, I'm tempted. The prospect of a social radical like Hillary Clinton shaping the Court for a generation at a moment when it already is in the process of distorting the Bill of Rights out of all recognition frightens me to death. But the prospect of an emotionally unstable proto-Fascist like Donald Trump in the Oval Office and the inevitable legitimization and even exaltation of authoritarianism and bigotry from the new Know-Nothings who support him frightens me even more. I really don't think the sane Republicans who plan to swallow hard, think of England, and vote for Trump realize just how dark are the forces he represents, and just how extreme. I hope they don't learn the hard way.
But their numbers will increase, complements of Justice Kennedy's latest absurdity. Conservatives who are appalled at the prospect of Donald Trump in the White House are going to find it harder to vote for him anyway in order to take back the Court and save the Constitution. The Texas ruling provides Trump supporters with a powerful argument. Liberal Justice Kennedy- who the left-wingers who do most of the reporting in this country so delight in describing as a "centrist" or a "swing vote" or even (James Madison preserve us!) a conservative has just struck a powerful blow for the argument that he and his fellow subverters of the rule of law need to be stopped even at the cost of risking a Trump administration,
Like Michael Medved, I believe that Trump is a far greater danger to the Constitution and to freedom than even the justices Hillary might (or might not) appoint. But it just became a lot harder to make the case.