Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Why SCOTUS Pick Should Be Pryor

It has been announced that President Donald Trump is going to publicly announce his nominee for the opening in the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) on Monday evening.

The announcement is to take place during a live television broadcast at 8:00pm EST. This is a high profile time slot, and is entirely befitting the important nature of this vital nomination.

The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest federal court in our nation. Established in 1789 by our original U.S. Constitution, the SCOTUS has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all courts in the land. 

Thus, SCOTUS is the final arbiter on nearly all court cases of vital national interest. Decisions are rendered by a majority vote of the Chief Justice and eight associate justices, all of whom serve a lifetime term.

That last part is vitally important. Once a justice is appointed to the SCOTUS, they serve until they either die, retire, resign, or are impeached and convicted by the U.S. Congress. Since no SCOTUS justice has ever been successfully impeached and convicted, appointees are almost certainly going to serve as long as they wish.

The only U.S. President to serve a full term in office and not have the opportunity to appoint a justice to the SCOTUS was Jimmy Carter. Now, less than two weeks into his first term in office, President Trump gets that opportunity.

Trump's pick is vitally important for a number of reasons, but primarily because the court vacancy that he is filling has been open for nearly a year. Last February 13, longtime noted SCOTUS justice Antonin Scalia passed away suddenly in his sleep at age 79.


There is a longstanding political tradition that SCOTUS nominees are not appointed when an opening occurs during a Presidential election year. President Obama chose to nominate Merrick Garland for the opening anyway, but that nomination was never considered by Congress.

Scalia was considered the anchor of the "originalist" or "constitutionalist" arm of the SCOTUS. In other words, the most "conservative" of all the justices.

Most court watchers consider that there are three such "conservative" justices remaining: Chief Justice John Roberts (62), Samuel Alito (66), and Clarence Thomas (68). The more "liberal" leaning justices are Ruth Bader Ginsburg (83), Stephen Breyer (78), Sonia Sotomayor (62), and Elena Kagan (56).

The eighth justice currently serving is Anthony Kennedy (80), who is considered a libertarian, and who while Alito was alive was considered the "swing vote" of the court in many 5-4 decisions.

President Trump was a great admirer of justice Scalia. He has vowed to select a nominee "in the mold" of the man whom he called "a great judge" during the presidential campaign.

Though the President had as many as two dozen names being considered for the position at one time, three names have come to the fore in recent days as the likely finalists: William Pryor, Neil Gorsuch, and Thomas Hardiman.

I believe that the pick should and will be 54-year old William Pryor, a U.S. Circuit Judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. 

Though all of the finalists would certainly be described as conservative-leaning, there are absolutely no questions whatsoever about Pryor in that regard.

Earlier this week, Alex Swoyer at The Washington Times reported on a group of lawyers and academics who had "crunched the numbers" on the three men. They came up with Pryor as the clear leader in the "Scalia-ness" factor.

"Jeremy Kidd, a law professor at Mercer University who led the study, said they looked at the judges’ fealty to the Constitution’s original meaning, their devotion to Justice Scalia’s writings and their willingness to strike out in writing their own opinions rather than sign on to colleagues’ rulings — a hallmark of Scalia's tenure on the high court."
Pryor is a Roman Catholic born and raised in the south. He earned his BA at what is now the University of Louisiana-Monroe, and his doctorate from Tulane University. Pryor then served as a law clerk for a couple of years before working as a private attorney and professor. 

He became Alabama's deputy attorney general from 1995-97, and then served for more than seven years as the Attorney General of Alabama before being appointed to his current position with the 11th Circuit by President George W. Bush in February 2004.

If there is one thing that you can say with absolute certainty about President Trump, it is that he says what he means and means what he says.

When this President says that he will pick someone like Scalia, then he will pick someone like Scalia. No one fits that definition more closely than Pryor.

Many of the talking heads believe that Gorsuch will be the pick. He would be a good pick that most conservatives and supporters of the President could get behind

Some have commented that the nominee will be Hardiman, believing that he will perhaps be more easily confirmed while still turning out to be a conservative justice.

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter yesterday commented that "with Hardiman, Trump's immigration policies won't stand a chance. Hardiman is the Jeb Bush of judges."

While the President certainly does not consult Ms. Coulter on his nominations, there is one thing she knows, and that is conservatism.

There is simply no way that Trump rolls the dice and takes a chance that this nominee will turn out like President Ronald Reagan's unreliable appointee Kennedy.

If the pick is indeed announced as Pryor, the backlash from liberal circles will be immediate and loud. There will be a major nomination battle at his hearing. 

Getting him appointed to the court may even actually require use of the so-called "nuclear option" by the U.S. Senate. If that turns out to be the case, then so be it.

In the end, getting a legitimate conservative jurist appointed to the SCOTUS is the single most important reason that I voted for President Trump. I know that to be true for many more of his supporters as well.

At 8:00pm tonight, I expect President Donald Trump to step before the American people and nominate William Pryor to the open seat on the Supreme Court of the United States.

If some other name is indeed announced, I won't necessarily be unhappy. But I will be surprised.

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