The 2016 Presidential Election will have major consequences on American policies and national standing.
When considering qualifications for our next Commander and Chief, many conservative voters consider the importance of leadership style, preferences on specific government programs, taxation policies, views on personal rights, national security strategies, or projected budgets and how they would affect our national debt. The platforms that candidates run on are often a series of promises, some of which may prove impossible to complete during the presidency if the other branches of government prove to be in disagreement.
But few voters are looking at which candidate is the most fit to choose the next justices appointed to the Supreme Court.
While the constitution only requires judges exhibit “good behavior,” it does require the president nominate the federal judges and the Senate confirm them. In order to reduce the burden on the president, the 600 district court judges and 200 courts of appeals judges are all recommended by the senator from the state who is from the same party of the president (and that recommendation is nearly always followed). On the other hand, the nine Supreme Court justices are chosen directly by the president. The balance of power in this judicial branch has a major impact on the nation’s reading of the Constitution.
Hillary Clinton recently stated she was open to the idea of nominating Barack Obama for the Supreme Court, should she become POTUS. President Obama himself nominated Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan, shifting the Supreme Court composition to seven liberal Democrats and four conservative Republicans. This resulted in an upholding of Obamacare in 2014 and lead to changing the definition of marriage in 2015, along with many other liberal shifts in the way constitutional rights were defined.
George Bush upheld his campaign promises when he nominated Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito during his two terms in office. Before that, President Bill Clinton nominated Ruth Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, who have both voted with the liberal bloc to limit states’ rights and push popular agendas.
But the next president may nominate as many as four Supreme Court justices.
With four justices over the age of 77, a major Supreme Court shift may occur within the next few years. This has been a campaign point for Hillary Clinton. While on her campaign trail, she told a group of gay rights activists, “We could lose the Supreme Court, and then there’d be a whole new litigation strategy coming from those who oppose marriage equality.”
Those nominations are going to have a serious impact going forward.
But, are Republican voters taking this issue into consideration when choosing a candidate? Ted Cruz has a strong voting record and promises to nominate conservative justices. During his work in the Senate, Cruz has worked hard to uphold a near-perfect voting record. He has led the charge in the conservative movements that dealt with policies on national healthcare, immigration, foreign policy, national debt, energy regulations, and gun ownership rights.
He hasn’t been a favorite among Washington elite, but he promised voters from the start that he would fight even if it wasn’t popular.
Cruz has never backed down from floor speeches, social media outreach, media appearances and legislative initiatives. He has proven he is willing to stand for the rights and beliefs of those he represents.
That’s what fundamentalists, traditionalists, and conservatives say they want in their POTUS. Voters are wanting something different; someone to challenge the current system, strengthen the country, and get national policies back on track.
Gallup reports that 60% of Republican voters consider themselves “conservative” or “very conservative” – a number that has not changed between 2007 and 2015. But, votes for a conservative candidate are currently split between the myriad of remaining candidates. In the past two cycles, the Republican party has ended up with more moderate options (John McCain and Mitt Romney) who failed to take the POTUS ticket.
This makes it likely that the Republican nominee could end up being a less-conservative option, unless voters can band together within the party to form a consensus. And, while personality or popularity might make the first impressions, there is a lot more that should be considered in the primaries. Ted Cruz upholds conservative beliefs and has shown he has a backbone to match.
Four major judicial appointments and a nuclear button will depend on the steadfast integrity of the next Commander and Chief.
Collectively, Republicans will have to determine who is most fit to make those calls.