Two words: Supreme Court. That’s why many people voted for Donald Trump.
Trump should have the opportunity to replace at least three justices on the court over the next four years, including the Scalia vacancy, possibly the irritating Darth Vader Ginsburg and the wobbly Anthony Kennedy. It’s conceivable that liberal Stephen Breyer might call it quits, too.
Since the Democrats will undoubtedly fight many of the administration’s policies in the courts, these choices will prove not only important during the Trump years but far beyond them.
As a result, it is important for Trump to choose outside of the usual ranks of the judiciary. Eight of the justices come from the bench; only Elena Kagan does not.
Some of the recent choices from the judiciary by Republicans have not proven reliable. For example, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a neck-snapping decision in support of Obamacare. Kennedy joins the liberals when it comes to social issues involving abortion and same-sex marriages. Perhaps the worst example of a Republican appointment was David Souter, who was selected by George H. W. Bush as a bedrock conservative and joined the liberal side of the bench after a few years.
A conservative bench also could look back on some of the wrong-headed decisions from recent years, including Obamacare. Even more important would be the possibility of a case to overturn Roe v. Wade.
It’s worth noting that more than 100 federal judgeships are also waiting to be filled.
One suggestion: appoint Ted Cruz to the Supreme Court. Although Trump and Cruz may not have gotten along during the 2016 campaign, the Texas Republican has a significant track record as a conservative.
He has argued more cases before the court than any other member of Congress, including positions to uphold the right to bear arms and religious freedom.
I supported Cruz for president and am pleased to support his nomination to the court. His selection would assuage the doubts of many conservatives who voted for Trump.
Update: I called the presidential election correctly in Pennsylvania in my last post, but I got the Senate race wrong. My apologies to Pat Toomey!
Christopher Harper is a recovering journalist who worked for The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and The Washington Times and teaches media law.