If President Trump's political obituary is written, you can bet that the decision he will make on Monday on a Supreme Court ruling will be quite high. The person nominating Trump will be appointed at 9:00 pm. is in line to create a clear 5 to 4 conservative majority at the nation's highest court.
But as with his entire presidency, there is no guarantee that things will go smoothly. Trump will nominate a justice that could set the course of the country for years and decades – for good or bad, depending on your point of view – but a late development this weekend confirms that the decision is not destined for a home run.
Trump said Sunday that his choice was up to four people – apparently the runner-up of 2017, Thomas Hardiman, will return to the announced three of Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett and Raymond Kethledge. Kavanaugh and Barrett were considered as the two leaders, but some conservatives have rejected Kavanaugh and others have worried that Barrett could risk what a successful nomination should be.
Here comes the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Into the Game. As the New York Times first reported and confirmed the Washington Post, McConnell spoke to Trump on Friday, raising the prospect that either Kavanaugh or Barrett could unnecessarily jeopardize a danger, swift confirmation of the new justice.
In the case of Kavanaugh, it is because he spent the last few decades as a judge in the appeals court, as the Bush administration's top representative, and as a lawyer in Kenneth Starr's team during the Bill Clinton scandal, which led to a paper path that was very It took a long time to sift through – and could possibly bring some surprises. Kavanaugh could also fight to win the support of Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
In the case of Barrett it is because she is seen as the most antagonistic Roe v. calf and could possibly lose the support of pro-abortion rights Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), whose vote could condemn their nomination if no Democrats cross over.
Robert Costa and Robert Barnes of the Post conclude:
The officials pointed out that McConnell had not made an election for the president. But they said McConnell noted that Hardiman and Kethledge could do well in the Senate because their reputation and records were not as politically charged as others on the president's nominee list.
Regardless of whether McConnell actually pushed the president to a concrete decision, it is pretty clear what his goal is: to ensure that the Senate can confirm it someone, And that could be convincing for a couple of reasons. First, the close majority of the GOP, which is effectively 50-49 with Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) Fighting brain cancer. The second is the lack of time to do so before the Democrats could take over the Senate in November, which means that there is an urgent need to do it right at the first election. And thirdly, Trump's lack of ideological rigidity and his desire for "winning".
Trump has plenty of reason to be skeptical that he actually cares if roe is overthrown or how consistently conservative the new justice will be. The president may have some ideological convictions, but abortion is not one of them. His track record – and regular glee at Justice Neil M. Gorsuch – makes it clear that it's all about victory and keeping the base intact.
And when the president asks, "What is the easiest victory?", McConnell gave him the answer. Kethledge and Hardiman both carve pretty mild and even blue-collar profiles, and none has fueled the passions of the GOP base enough to spawn full-fledged campaigns against them. While there can always be surprises, you have to think that they have the best chance of getting confirmation and doing so quickly. Kavanaugh and Barrett could both make the process more difficult than it might be. Trump loved how good Gorsuch's confirmation was, and it's not hard to see that he wanted to do that again.
All that said, that's Trump. Maybe he'll take Barrett because it's the biggest base game. Perhaps he chooses Kavanaugh because he matches Trump's idea of a Supreme Court Court, Ivy League training and everything else. Perhaps Trump is confident enough that one of them will be confirmed that he will choose only the one he likes best. Surely, each of the four would join the court in a few months and give the Conservatives the 5-to-4 advantage.
But McConnell thinks it's worth pointing in the direction of the simplest gains and avoiding unnecessary headaches. We'll see if Trump is on the path of least resistance.