The reasons that Peter Thiel will never wear the robes of a Supreme Court justice are too numerous to count, but let’s run through a few of them.
Donald Trump would have to win the presidency, which means there’s already less than a 50 percent chance.
Trump would have to stick by his offer to nominate Thiel. Presuming he was serious in the first place, Trump has a history of making promises and not delivering on them.
But if everything fell into place and the would-be ocean-colonizer found himself nominated to the Supreme Court, could he get confirmed? Well, of course not. He has said, among other things, that he’s not a fan of democracy, which he finds antithetical to freedom, because women won the franchise and now vote against libertarians at the polls. (He later clarified he didn’t mean women should be disenfranchised.)
But while you’re stewing on that deep thought, consider this: If Trump nominated Thiel, Democrats might actually be smart to get him confirmed. The alternative could be far worse.
Earlier this election season, in order to mollify conservatives, Trump released a list of judges he said were representative of the kind he might put on the court. Thiel was not on the list; instead, it was made up of rock-ribbed conservatives who would vote in very predictable ways: against marriage equality, against reproductive freedom, against the Affordable Care Act and regulation in general and consistently in favor of more police power and whatever case the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pushing.
On many of these issues, Thiel is a wild card ― but for Democrats, a wild card is better than a sure bad thing.
When it comes to corporate power, Thiel would probably often side with the conservatives on the Court. (Libertarians’ skepticism of concentrated power only seems to come into play when it takes a government form.) But otherwise he’d often break with them, particularly when it comes to Roe v. Wade, marriage equality or other efforts by the government to dictate a particular moral perspective.
Most of Thiel’s more outlandish ideas would be unable to get even two votes, let alone the five needed for a majority. Some would be plausible. Associate Justice Thiel, fresh off his destruction of Gawker.com, could be expected to side with other conservative judges who want to broaden the ability of the aggrieved wealthy to sue for libel, for instance. Trump himself has promised to “open up” libel laws, and Melania Trump recently made good on a threat to sue over a story she disliked.
It’s hard to overstate how important the identity of the next Supreme Court justice will be. President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland to replace the late Antonin Scalia, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to meet with him, holding the seat open for whomever Trump or Clinton chooses.
With the court split 4-4, the direction the country takes on any number of fronts ― immigration policy, reproductive freedom, climate change, police reform, labor rights, LGBT rights ― will be decided by a single vote. On many of the cultural issues, Thiel would be likely to side with liberals, against government’s limiting of personal choice. And libertarians tend to be opposed to the abuse of power by police and other state entities.
When President George W. Bush accidentally nominated his personal lawyer Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, Democrats were all too eager to rush her through the Senate, knowing that she was not an orthodox conservative, to put it mildly. As a wild card, she would’ve been a better bet for Democrats than anybody the Heritage Foundation could think up. Indeed, after Miers was withdrawn, she was replaced by Sam Alito, who, conservatives can rest assured, will not act on any unorthodox thoughts.
But Democrats had better guess right, because Thiel would have every intention of turning a lifetime appointment into an eternal one. In the same 2009 Cato essay where he complained about lady voters, he added that he rejects “the ideology of the inevitability of the death of every individual.”
To that end ― or, perhaps, against that end ― Thiel has been looking closely at one potential cure for aging, transfusing the blood of a younger person to an older one, making Thiel potentially the first openly vampire member of the Supreme Court.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
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