Viewpoint: Trump’s legal jeopardy conflict of interest should compel Senate to delay SCOTUS nomination

Does it make sense that the man who believes that the Attorney General’s role is to protect the president, that a court-authorized search of a white-collar criminal’s offices was “an attack on the nation,” a man who demanded a loyalty oath from the FBI Director, who fails to enact Congress’ sanctions against Russia for meddling in the election, and indeed, takes no action to defend the nation against cyber attacks on the election process, should be allowed to name a pivotal seat on the Supreme Court, which will decide issues that affect millions and millions of Americans for the next 40 years, well beyond his time in office?

The reason the Senate should not hold confirmation hearings on Donald Trump’s nomination is because, as Sen. Cory Booker said, there is enormous conflict of interest, while investigations are underway into what role Trump and his campaign had in colluding with a foreign adversary in order to tip the election, whether Trump committed obstruction of justice or abused the power of his office, or has been taking payoffs from a foreign power in order to direct policy a certain way.

Trump has dragged out the same list he used during the 2016 campaign to assure the most rabid conservatives and evangelists to overcome their Never-Trumpism because he would realize their most fervent wish, to appoint a judge who would overturn Roe v. Wade – a list compiled by the Federalist Society with the Heritage Foundation’s seal of approval. He doesn’t need to “ask” a nominee.

What the senators, Constitutionally-mandated to “advise and consent,” should ask is whether Trump made a tacit quid pro quo bargain to appoint in exchange for rulings that will say “thank you”.

But the nominees from the Federalist Society also adhere to the principle advocated by now-Justice Samuel Alito: “the Unitary Executive” – a concept of extreme power that seems to only hold when a Republican is president.

That is what Trump is banking on, a Supreme Court that will cement his unbridled power. Muslim Travel Ban?

Well a President is in his right. Overturn Obamacare? The Constitution doesn’t specifically mention healthcare or public health. Gun violence prevention? Second Amendment, baby. Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid? The Founders didn’t specifically say, and these so-called “originalists” claim to have a direct line to the Founders’ intent.

Protecting the environment, voting rights, workers rights, civil rights, consumer protection, public health? These judges have made it clear: a corporation has more rights than an individual, even a religious soul more worthy of “protection” than a person’s conscience.

Except that it is in the nation’s mission statement: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
And while originalists claim to have some spiritualist’s ability to divine the Founders’ intent, and swear under oath to the Senate Judiciary members they will uphold “settled law” and precedent, once they get on the bench they are ruthless in overturning precedent in order to further a political objective.

Their judicial philosophy: “the means justify the ends.”

Bush v. Gore; Citizens United. Hobby Lobby. Shelby. Ohio gerrymandering. Texas gerrymandering. Collective bargaining.

Most critically, the Supreme Court will be called upon to rule on Trump’s abuse of power and obstruction of justice: A President swears an oath to uphold the Constitution, obey the nation’s laws and treaties. Trump has already defied these.

Take the illegal tariffs he has imposed on Canada, Mexico, the European Union (yet refused to follow Congress’ sanction against the Chinese company ZTE after China invested millions in an Indonesia project the Trump Organization had an interest in and Ivanka got more trademarks): these break treaties, defy international law, and can only be imposed on a temporary basis when national security is at stake (Canada, a national security threat?), when instead, Trump jeopardizes national security by overturning alliances. The Supreme Court may well have to weigh in.
Torture. Cruel & unusual punishment. Due Process. Equal Protection. The Emoluments Clause intended to prevent a President from becoming a paid puppet of a foreign power. War Powers. Stop & Frisk & Deport.
With a solid ultra-rightwing majority, Trump will be emboldened to do even worse things – give a “shoot-to-kill” order against migrants crossing the border (he admires Duterte of the Philippines so much for his extrajudicial killings); shut down news organizations he doesn’t like; launch a war without Congress. Impose taxes on companies, as he threatened Harley Davidson, who don’t support his policy.

You can imagine that the man who demanded a loyalty oath, who runs the nation based on his self-interest, who was described by fired FBI Director James Comey as a Mafia Boss, will make it clear: I will make you Supreme Court Justice for Life, but you will rule in favor of a Unitary Executive, who cannot be indicted or required to give evidence, who can pardon anyone including himself, who cannot obstruct justice or abuse power because, “If a President does it, well, it must be legal.”

Or as Louis XIV put it: “L’etat, c’est moi.”

But we know how that turned out.

Didn’t we fight a war with Britain over this same issue? Something to think about during the fireworks’ red glare, July 4th.

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Karen Rubin

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