Brilliant new plan: Trump gets RBG to retire and agrees to replace her with... Garland

Brilliant new plan: Trump gets RBG to retire and agrees to replace her with... Garland

I’m not sure who Allan Smith at Business Insider ran into who put a bug in his ear to talk to Trump confidant Chris Ruddy, but it must have been one heck of a conversation. The bottom line is pretty much the summation found in the title of this article. In order to avoid any more angst or consternation around Supreme Court nominations, Trump could short circuit the entire discussion by getting Ruth Bader Ginsburg to retire now rather than trying to stick it out for four more years. And what would she get in return? A promise that the President would nominate the same guy Barack Obama tried to put on the court.

Chris Ruddy, a confidant of President Donald Trump, told Business Insider in a Monday interview that Trump should cut a deal with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. His proposition: Replace her on the bench with Judge Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s choice to fill Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacated seat in 2016.

Ruddy, who wrote about his opposition to the Senate invoking the so-called nuclear option to help get Judge Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court, said Trump nominating Garland to the court would be a “huge move.”

“I think they made a big mistake by pulling the nuclear option,” Ruddy said. “I wrote about it. I said they should not have done it. I think that he still should pick Merrick Garland and do a deal. Ruth Bader Ginsberg wants to retire, and I think they should swap her out, give her an offer where they would put Merrick Garland on the Supreme Court.”

This actually sounds like a brilliant plan except for the small detail of virtually everything involved in it being insane. First of all, Ruddy may be an old friend of the President’s and a trusted ally, but he’s not advising him on day to day White House operations. If he was he’d already be fighting Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner for desk space adjacent to the Oval Office. And if this is the sort of advice he’d be dispensing, I doubt he’d be in the building for long.

But let’s just say this was seriously under consideration. How much worse of a disaster could it be? The Senate GOP expended a vast amount of political capital and set off a firestorm by deciding to keep Garland’s name out of committee and waiting for the last election to wrap up. There were and still are plenty of conservatives who remain skeptical of President Trump and are not inclined to go along with many of his agenda items, but the one thing they can all agree on was that putting Neil Gorsuch on the bench was worth the pain of the trip. They also know that Trump has a list of other, similarly qualified and inclined judges in his pocket should he need to fill another vacancy and that keeps some from barking at him too loudly on other issues. Pushing Trump to do a deal like this would basically drain all the remaining conservative good will out of his pool.

That entire argument skips right past the question of why Trump would feel like he needs to make a deal. The filibuster is dead and gone. Provided he doesn’t go off of his list and nominate his wife or something, he can pretty much put anyone up he likes. Where is the incentive to make a deal with Ruth Bader Ginsburg? She can stay on the court for as long as she likes.

And what sort of incentive would Ginsburg have to make such a “deal” in the first place? First of all, would she feel 100% confident that Trump would hold up his end, particularly if it was done in private? He doesn’t get to nominate anyone until she’s at least announced her retirement, if not actually left the building. The President could still turn around and nominate anyone he wished. And if the deal was made in public Ginsburg would be further damaging the court by making public a dirty little secret which everyone knows but nobody wants to talk about. The Justices are supposed to be outside the political system. That’s why they have jobs for life. We all know that they would like to be able to pick a time to retire when the “correct” party holds the White House to nominate their successor, but they don’t generally say it. A “deal” such as this would tear the mask off entirely and show that it’s a rigged and highly politicized game.

I suppose the real exit question for all of you is whether or not anyone thinks that Trump is actually that crazy. That list of judges may have been one of the deciding factors which finally got him the support in the GOP he needed in a very, very tight election. I seriously doubt he’d get the GOP nomination for a second term if he put up Garland’s name. And could Garland even get confirmed? He didn’t make it out of committee last time so what makes us think he would now? The President could be slitting his own wrists politically and getting zero for it in return.

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