The retirement of moderate Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy provides conservatives with a potential, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to appoint a constitutional jurist to the court and cement a 5-4 conservative majority, but moderate Republicans are already throwing cold water on conservative hopes.
Yesterday, Sen. John Cornyn attempted to manage Republicans’ expectations on the upcoming Supreme Court nomination, saying he wants a less controversial pick for what could potentially be the most impactful Supreme Court appointment in American history.
According to a report by POLITICO, Cornyn “cautioned Trump against selecting any nominee with a publicly stated position on overturning court precedents such as Roe v. Wade.”
“I think that would be a terrible mistake, for the president to nominate somebody who had that sort of agenda,” he said adding that “we don’t need judges who have either personal or political or ideological agendas, in my view. And I think that ought to comfort all of us.”
Cornyn’s statement puts him in direct conflict with not only Texas’ pro-life voters but the president himself. On the campaign trail, Trump promised he would appoint pro-life, Second Amendment-supporting judges who will interpret the law as written.
“The justices that I am going to appoint will be pro-life, they will have a conservative bent, they will be protecting the Second Amendment. They’re great scholars in all cases and they’re people of tremendous respect. They will interpret the Constitution the way the founders intended it to be interpreted,” said Trump.
So far, Trump has kept that promise not only with the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, but with the appointment of scores of conservative jurists to the nation’s appellate and district courts.
With Republican control of the Presidency and the Senate, the only obstacle to the appointment of conservative judges are Republican hold-outs.
Cornyn’s sentiment places him at odds with Texas’ other conservative leaders. Both Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Greg Abbott have advocated for the president to nominate Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.
Selecting the next #SCOTUS Justice is a monumental moment in modern constitutional history. We need a brilliant, conservative Justice devoted to the Constitution. I agree with @SenTedCruz that @SenMikeLee would be a superb selection & should be swiftly confirmed. #TCOT #txlege https://t.co/bB3ec0WC4F
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) June 28, 2018
A staunch conservative, Lee is Cruz’s closest ally in the US Senate, has been outspoken in his pro-life and pro-Second Amendment views, and has worked with other Republican lawmakers to lead the fight in defunding Planned Parenthood and opposing gun control.
Republican voters have been told they must vote for every Republican on the ballot for decades in the hopes of achieving a majority capable of taking the Supreme Court back from liberals who disrespect the founding documents of the United States.
For individuals such as Cornyn, looking down the barrel of a quickly approaching re-election campaign, the only “terrible mistake” in this situation would be finding a way to clutch defeat from the jaws of victory.