Imagine how different the court would look today if Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 election. She probably would have nominated a judicial activist to replace Scalia, creating a 5-to-4 liberal majority. She would have replaced Ginsburg with another liberal, securing that seat for decades. She might have had a third pick if Justice Stephen G. Breyer made the same decision as Kennedy and retired when a president he trusted was in office. The damage done by the activist liberal court Clinton ushered in would have been breathtaking.
Simply stopping this is an accomplishment. But Trump has made better judicial choices than any modern Republican president. Of Ronald Reagan’s three appointees (Sandra Day O’Connor, Scalia and Kennedy), only Scalia was a consistent conservative. George H.W. Bush appointed one solid conservative (Clarence Thomas) and one solid liberal (David H. Souter). George W. Bush picked one reliable conservative (Samuel A. Alito Jr.) and one wavering justice (John G. Roberts Jr.). By contrast, the four liberal justices appointed over the past quarter century — Ginsburg, Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor — almost never defect on close 5-to-4 cases. So, Democrats have a perfect record on recent Supreme Court appointments, while Republicans were not even batting .500 — until Trump came along.
Perhaps Trump’s greatest accomplishment will be neutralizing the influence of Roberts.