(October 15, 2020 / JNS) In 2016, shortly after Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential election, I had the privilege of sitting down with a few senior Republican Congressmen. All told me that what they wanted most of all to be accomplished during the next four years was for vacancies on the Supreme Court to be filled with conservative-minded justices.
That election was considered to be the most critical in recent American history, precisely because of the possibility that three Supreme Court seats would become available. Twenty-six percent of Trump voters reported that the Supreme Court was the most important factor in their decision. Only 18 percent of those who supported Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton said the same.
Since 1789, there have been 163 formal nominations to the Supreme Court (144 persons), and 126 have been confirmed. George Washington leads the list with 14 nominations (12 of which were confirmed).
Franklin D. Roosevelt and John Tyler are next, with nine nominations each. All of Roosevelt’s were confirmed. Only one of Tyler’s was confirmed.
Andrew Jackson, the president most compared to President Trump, nominated seven and had five confirmed. Speaking of whom, despite many of his divisive actions, he garnered both fervent support and strong opposition. And he served two terms as president (1829-1837).
Presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon each appointed three justices to the Supreme Court (Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy; Nixon appointed Henry Blackmun, Lewis Powell and William Rehnquist.
There have been 29 Supreme Court seats that were vacant during an election year. A nomination has been made in each case. It has been a rule, rather than an exception, for a president to fill a vacancy ahead of an election. The filling of the vacancy is more crucial than the election itself.
If Trump accomplishes his goal of putting three conservative judges onto the Supreme Court, he will have fulfilled one of the major objectives of his presidency and will of his backers. Unlike most presidents who make a lot of campaign promises, he has come as close as anyone to keeping them.
By appointing Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and now, Amy Coney Barrett, to the bench, he is guaranteeing the successful future of America.
Dr. Joseph Frager is first vice president of the National Council of Young Israel.
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