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With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement announcement, the battle is on, supposedly,* for the future course of the Supreme Court. There has already been plenty of heated, and some reasoned, video and written commentary on possible nominees. Some are campaigning for particular candidates, while others are leveraging the occasion to score political points for their position or party.
I fell into some of that myself late last week, raising my voice to a dear friend when we were really just differing on the level of analysis. Realizing I was too tactically focused, I had to think and research a bit more, leading to this piece. Beyond the kabuki theater run by Senators and pundits for multiple audiences, President Trump must play for both the short-term win and medium-term win.
The short-term win is getting his first choice confirmed before the 2018 midterms, with possible second-order benefits in House and Senate races. The medium-term win is a series of decisions by 2020, confirming President Trump’s ability to deliver on his promises, and distinguishing him from past Republican presidents, whose picks’ judicial records have been uneven to downright dismaying. The long-term, beyond his presidency, is unknowable, subject to future presidents’ Court nominees. The short- and medium-term campaign will be fought with a nominee from President Trump’s list of 25 possible Supreme Court candidates.