Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump made it almost official. He now has in his hip pocket the names of 11 hardline conservative judges and legal luminaries who he deems fit SCOTUS judges. The names supplied by the equally hardline conservative Heritage Foundation weren't much a surprise.
At a town hall in last December, the month before the South Carolina primary, Trump didn't hesitate when asked who his favorite High Court justice was. He named Clarence Thomas. Thomas was his guy on the court because he is "very strong and consistent." Trump's 11 names, then, are in keeping with his Thomas swoon.
Naming a High Court judge is the one issue that has ignited the greatest debate, furor and public warfare. The legal bloodbath would be even messier if "President" Trump plucked any one of the 11 names from the list as his SCOTUS choice. So the repeated question then is why would anyone play with fire with Trump and bulk at backing Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee?
The possibility of one, not to mention, the possibility of two or even three more Thomas clones on the High Court given the ages of the three court liberals should be more than enough incentive to insure that Trump never gets a chance to pull that list of names out of his pocket. Yet polls repeatedly show that a troubling percentage of left-leaning Democrats and progressive leaning independents say they won't back Clinton no matter what.
One of the two stock retorts to shunning Clinton is to spit out the by now familiar epithets at her, Wall Street shill, corporate sell-out, war hawk and untrustworthy. The Hillary bashers convince themselves that there wouldn't be a dime's worth of difference between a Trump White House and a Clinton White House.
The other comeback is that "President" Trump would propel legions of protesters into the streets at every Trump turn. He would be relentlessly challenged every step of the way by Congressional Democrats, civil rights, liberties, environmental, and women groups. They would stop him dead in his tracks when he tries to shove his agenda through, and that first and foremost would mean an epic war against his effort to put another Thomas on the High Court.
The first rationale is, of course, patently absurd. Trump has made it perfectly clear that he would try to repeal the Affordable Care Act, totally scrap the Dodd-Frank financial industry regulations, do nothing to stop the further evisceration of the Voting Rights Act, cheer lead the NRA and avoid comprehensive gun control like the plague, wreak new miseries on undocumented workers and their children, and give a wink and nod license to ramp up anti-Muslim hysteria in the country. Clinton is the diametric opposite of this and trying to make the case against her as a Trump policy look alike is beyond laughable.
The other problem with the assumption that Trump can be easily stopped is there is no guarantee that Senate Democrats and progressive House Democrats would not still be in the minority in Congress. If that is the case, they would be at the mercy of a White House now in the hands of a fickle reactionary, and a Congress that would giddily aid and abet his most rightwing draconian initiatives and legislation.
That wouldn't be all. Protest groups would have leverage only in the forces they could muster in the streets. But Trump and a Republican Majority Congress would be virtually immune to those protests since they did not rely on them to win or stay in office.
This makes the case for Clinton even more urgent even without Trump in the White House but with Congress in the GOP's grip. She is the only one who could then stand deflect, derail, or at the least minimize the irreparable political carnage that the GOP would wreak if it kept the Senate and the House.
Now back to Trump and the Supreme Court. In decades past, many Democratic and Republican appointed justices scrapped party loyalties and based their legal decisions solely on the merit of the law, constitutional principles and the public good. Trump's favorite judge, Thomas, has gone full steam in the other direction. He has blatantly rammed his strictest of strict constructionist ideology into every opinion he's written and vote he's cast on civil rights, police powers, corporate financial dealings, the death penalty, abortion, and voting rights. He has firmly carved out a granite like niche as one of the most reflexive, knee jerk, reactionary jurists to grace the court in decades.
Thomas punctuates that by being the court's first openly public recluse and with rare exceptions refusing to utter a peep during any of the oral arguments before the court. But then there's not much need since his votes are already guaranteed.
Saying no to Clinton is the most dangerous of dangerous propositions. It would say yes to the possibility of three more Thomas's on the High Court.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His latest book is How "President" Trump will Govern (Amazon Kindle) He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on Radio One. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network.