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Are Trump And McConnell Planning A Pre-Election Supreme Court Surprise?

With each new poll showing that Donald Trump and his GOP allies in Congress are likely headed for an Election Day shellacking, there are now whispers that the president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) may be cooking up a pre-election surprise that would involve encouraging one of the conservatives on the Supreme Court to retire at the end of the current term so that Trump can name a replacement.


Robert Costa of The Washington Post discussed that possibility on MSNBC Wednesday, noting:

“There are some people inside of the White house that are around this president who are hoping at this point, knowing that it may not happen, but they are hoping that there might be a Supreme Court vacancy. Clarence Thomas, the justice since the early ’90s, could decide to retire.”

Imagine how such a plan might materialize. Someone (perhaps McConnell or one of his staffers) would make contact with Thomas and pitch the idea to him of Trump being able to cement a far-right majority on the high court for decades to come. Even if a Democrat becomes the next president and the Senate is also in Democratic hands, it would be almost impossible for the court’s permanent tilt to the right to be altered unless another of the conservative justices suddenly passed away or decided to leave the bench early.


Such a plan would also be used to fire up the GOP base and evangelical Christians just in time for the election. They would be sold the idea that if Trump were given a second term, he might be able to appoint yet another right-wing jurist, stamping a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court for a generation.


In an article The Post published Wednesday, there’s this ominous paragraph regarding what might be in the works behind the scenes inside at White House:

“There are also ongoing discussions between Trump advisers and conservative leaders about the possibility of a Supreme Court vacancy in the coming months — a tantalizing prospect for Republicans who value the court above all other issues and are eager to have Trump have one more opportunity to nominate a justice before the election.”

There’s no guarantee that such a move would save Trump’s faltering campaign, but it could push the Supreme Court even further to the right, which is within itself a frightening prospect.