As things stand now, some handicappers theorize that Joe Biden might have to win the popular vote by more than five million ballots to be even remotely confident of an Electoral College victory. That, too, is perverse.
And here we are, on the cusp of a court that won’t represent what most Americans believe. Sure, the court isn’t supposed to be beholden to public opinion, but Americans’ faith in their institutions and feeling that their voices are heard might be strained even further by what seem to be lurches backward by a court forged in the hottest flares of partisan passion.
While we’ve been reminded several times recently of the folly of guessing how justices will vote, a court with three Trump appointees could well restrict abortion even though most Americans support its legality in all or most cases. Such a court could also revisit gay rights, though an even bigger majority of Americans support marriage equality and an overwhelming majority believe that gay Americans should be protected from employment discrimination. It could look anew at various aspects of voting rights and affirmative action.
Were this to happen, it wouldn’t be because a president with deep-seated convictions was expressing them through the court. Rather, the most brazen of opportunists is continuing the politicization of the court and bending it to his re-election. His deliberations seem to take into account not only which justice or justices might energize evangelical voters the most, but also whether potential nominees are from battleground states. (Judges from Florida, Michigan and North Carolina have been floated.)
On this front as on all others, Trump is propelled not by a genuinely felt vision for the country but by a genuinely insatiable ego. He’s a bully who likes to dominate — in any way available, to the fullest extent possible — and he’s running rampant, just for the adrenaline rush of it.
As Ashley Parker of The Washington Post reported this week, Trump gloated to Bob Woodward about how many judges he and McConnell had put on the federal bench and how much of that bench bore Trump’s imprint. “The only one that has a better percentage is George Washington, because he appointed 100 percent,” Trump told Woodward. “But my percentage is, you know, like, ridiculous.”
“Maybe they’ll put a statue of you outside the Supreme Court,” Woodward responded, joking.
“Oh, what a good idea,” Trump said. “I think I’ll have it erected tomorrow.”