By Nancy Thorner -
The future of the Supreme Court was the most important issue for pro-life voters when they voted overwhelmingly for Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the U.S. on November 9, 2016. Throughout his campaign, Trump repeated promised he would appoint pro-life justices, in contrast to those pro-abortion Hillary Clinton would select. Based upon the next president's nominations, the Supreme Court could determine whether 58 million more abortions would take place, or if pre-born children will once again enjoy legal protection.
In Donald Trump's op-ed published on November 6, 2016, at USA Today, "Why you should vote for me," he put the spotlight on the importance of the Supreme Court. Included was this statement: "I will restore the constitutional rule of law and nominate Supreme Court justices who will do the same."
Of merit is Trump's pro-life pledge made in his third debate with moderator Chris Wallace, noted here, in which Trump tells Wallace that the judges he will appoint will be pro-life. Trump's response when Wallace asked Trump specifically if he wanted the court, including the justices Trump would name, to overturn Roe v. Wade:
If we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that is really what will happen. That will happen automatically in my opinion. Because I am putting pro-life justices on the court. I will say this. It will go back to the states and the states will then make a determination.
Trump's letter addressed to Dear Pro-LIfe Leaders in September of 2016 lays out Trump's pro-life commitments in an even stronger form addressing these four specific commitments: nominating pro-life justices; signing into law the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act; defending Planned Parenthood; and making the Hyde Amendment permanent.
Trump to be held accountable to his pro-life pledge
To insure that Trump does live up to his promise to appoint pro-life judges and that he is held accountable if he errs, Andy Schlafly, a director of Eagle Forum and son of its great founder, Phyllis Schlafly, drafted a coalition letter (read here) that was delivered to both President-elect Trump in New York and Vice President-elect Pence in D.C. on Thursday, December 29, 2016. A remarkable 90 groups have signed onto Schlafly's coalition letter. Paul Caprio of Family Pac Federal and David Smith of the Illinois Family Institute were signers here in Illinois. More groups continue to ask to join Schlafly's coalition letter. Additions are welcomed.
A segment of Schlafly's coalition letter was read on Fox News Sunday. The segment was aired again later on Sunday. This widely-viewed news show likewise used Schlafly's evaluation of the candidates. It is is important that you view Schlafly's chart to garner how he rates the Supreme Court candidates.
Tony Perkins recently said, “There’s clearly some on the list that are better than others.” There are, indeed, vast differences among candidates on the list, especially with respect to Trump's pro-life pledge. Some of the candidates (including Sykes and Colloton) have even repeatedly taken the pro-abortion side.
The importance of pro-life judges
Why is it so important that Trump does nominate someone who will fill the vacancy left by Scalia's death with a candidate in the image of Scalia?
The biggest prize in the presidential election was always the Supreme Court. President-elect Donald J. Trump is now positioned to make it more conservative, possibly for generations to come. Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat, vacant since he died in February, will almost certainly be filled by a conservative nominee. Thus, the Court will be back to its full strength and will again tilt right, as it has for decades, emboldening Chief Justice John Roberts and leaving Kennedy as the ultimate decider.
Of note is that the man or woman who replaces Scalia on the bench won't change its balance of power. Trump's more lasting impact is dependent on the other eight justices, particularly those old enough to favor retirement or risk dying in office. Liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer are 83 and 78, respectively, and Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative who often sides with liberals on major cases, is 80. If the president-elect gets to replace any of these three after taking office, the court will shift to the right.
It is therefore important that Trump's not only upholds his pro-life pledge in making his selection of the first U.S. Supreme Court vacancy to replace Scalia, but that All of Trump's expected 100+ judicial nominees should be pro-life. The advisers to the first President Bush thought he could get away with breaking his "no new taxes" pledge, but he couldn't. It's a mistake for anyone to recommend, even implicitly, that Trump break his pro-life pledge.
Trump's list of 21 scrutinized
In a few brief remarks to reporters at Trump Tower in New York City on Wednesday, November 17, Kellyanne Conway said the president-elect will make a Supreme Court pick from the list of 21 candidates he identified during his campaign. What should we make of Trump's much-publicized list of 21 potential high court nominees?
In an interview with Steve Deace of Conservative Review on December 12, 2016, Andy Schlafly expressed misgivings about the list of 21 potential Supreme Court candidates, raising the question as to why pro-life advocates should be skeptical of Trump's list. Schlafly, believing that the Supreme Court has more influence than the president does, at least within our country as it currently stands, is in the forefront of making sure that Trump isn't fooled or mislead into nominating a Supreme Court candidate who cannot be certified as 100% pro-life.
Regarding the list of 21, Schlafly explains that the 21 names were put forth by the Trump campaign to calm people down and to reassure them he would pick a good, strict constructionist to the Supreme Court. Some of names did come from The Heritage Foundation, while others came from the Federalist Society. As a member of the Federalist Society, "Schlafly points out that the Federalist Society is not a pro-life organization."
This has led to multiple nominees to the Supreme Court who voted with the pro-abortion side.
Even so, pressure is building to deflect Trump away from his pledge by the Federalist Society. The Institute for Justice just published an article in USA Today here that says nothing about Trump's pro-life pledge and ends up endorsing the most pro-abortion judge on the list of 21 given to Trump, Diane Sykes.
Trump transition team identifies the eight front runners
A report from Politico on January 1, 2017, did narrow down and identify the eight front runner that the Trump transition team has identified to replace late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The profiles are here on the eight possible nominees: William Pryor, Diane Sykes, Raymond Kethledge, Joan Larsen, Neil Gorsuch, Steven Colloton, Raymond Gruender, and Thomas Hardiman.
According to Andy Schlafly, most of the candidates in the Politico report are names we should be worried about. Of concern to Andy are Diane Sykes, Steve Colloton, Joan Larson, Neil Gorsuch, Raymond Kethledge, and William Pryor, who recently decided to grant homosexual groups access to middle schools as young as sixth grade to establish their "clubs." Charles Canady from the Florida Supreme Court most impressed Andy on Trump's list of 21, yet Canady didn't even make the narrowed down Politico Trump list which identified the eight front runners.
Organized opposition will attempt to undo Trump's pro-life pledge
Self-described "pro-life" groups in D.C. must be held more accountable. Some don't even say they support Trump's pro-life pledge, while others are obviously not speaking out as they should be. Some even tried to talk others out of speaking out.
Yesterday the Democrats in opposition said they would try to block whoever the nominee is. So we should continue to insist on a pro-life nominee worth fighting for, because it is going to be a fight regardless. If Trump's advisers persuade him to break his pro-life pledge, then it will become a disastrous replay of the first President Bush's breaking of his famous "no new taxes" pledge.
The media and senators will push for a woman because all four women on the list are not pro-life. But there are plenty of pro-life women judges having better qualifications than those on the list. The most-qualified pro-life women should be interviewed for the job. Judges Jennifer Elrod and Edith Jones, both recommended in Schlafly's coalition letter, should be interviewed by Trump for the job.
Trump's pledge to the American people in the final debate and afterwards was to pick only pro-life nominees, not to pick only from the list. For a job that lasts 30+ years, we should not accept anything less than the best.
Nancy Thorner is a citizen journalist and conservative activist from Chicago's northern suburbs.