Jane Chastain : Politically Direct

Trump Ties Himself in Knots on “60 Minutes”

with 3 comments

In the third presidential debate I found myself screaming at Donald Trump when he addressed Chris Wallace’s questions regarding his Supreme Court appointments.

Trump, I assumed, fell into the litmus test trap when he answered Wallace’s first question on gun rights.  Trump said, “We are going to appoint justices that will feel very strongly about the Second Amendment.”

Trump threw out a another litmus test when Wallace then asked, “Do you want the court, including the justices that you will name, to overturn Roe v. Wade, which includes, in fact, states a woman’s right to abortion?”

Trump’s answer in part:  “If we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that is really what will happen. That will happen automatically in my opinion. Because I am putting pro-life justices on the court.”

Surely, he didn’t really mean to say that!

There are two kinds and only two kinds of Supreme Court justices:

  • Those who believe their job is to simply interpret the Constitution and, when the meaning of  a specific word or phrase is in doubt, they go back to the original intent of the founders.  These justices are called “originalists.”
  • Those who believe the Constitution is a “living instrument” which can be twisted and reshaped to conform to the popular culture or their own belief system.   These are activist justices who often usurp the legislative branch and make law.

Liberals like Hillary Clinton believe in judicial activism and they make no bones about it, but what about Trump?  He stated many times that he will appoint justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia, who was an originalist.  Surely, Trump misspoke.  He would correct himself at the appropriate time.

That 60 Minutes interview Sunday was a perfect opportunity to set the record straight, but he doubled down when Leslie Stahl asked, “(A)re you looking to appoint a justice who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade?”  Trump answered in part, “I’m pro-life. The judges will be pro-life…”

When Stahl pressed,Trump bounced off into the controversy over gun control and volunteered, again, that he will be imposing a second litmus test: “(T)hey’re going to be very pro-Second Amendment.”

Later Trump began tying himself in knots when Stahl asked him about gay marriage. Trump maintained, “(I)t’s irrelevant because it was already settled. It’s law. It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean it’s done.”

But wait!  Stop the presses!

In that third presidential debate Trump told Chris Wallace that Roe would eventually be overturned after he had put two or three of his justices on the Supreme Court.  Roe v. Wade has stood for more than 43 years while Obergefell v. Hodges — the split decision on gay marriage — was handed down just last year.  How can the recent 5-4 decision be settled when the four-decades-old 7-2 Roe decision is not?

Trump likely is fine with the issue of gay marriage, but Antonin Scalia, his model justice, most certainly was not.

While the majority in Obergefell held that state same-sex marriage bans are a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, Scalia maintained that the Court had “no basis” for striking down legislation that the Fourteenth Amendment does not expressly forbid.

Scalia’s blistering descent called the Obergefell ruling a “threat to American democracy,” stating that the real issue is who rules us.  “Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact— and the furthest extension one can even imagine—of the Court’s claimed power to create ‘liberties’ that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention.”

When Trump released that list of individuals from which he will select his Supreme Court appointments he specifically stated, “I will appoint justices, who like Justice Scalia, will protect our liberty with the highest regard for the Constitution.”

Earth to Trump:  That type of individual does not impose his or her will in deciding cases.  The only issue to be decided by these jurists is whether the law in question is constitutional.  It is the job of the legislators — the direct representatives of the people — to make our laws.

Trump would do well to study the Constitution and the intent of the framers.

Liberals and conservatives alike have nothing to fear from originalist justices who will not overstep their bounds.  Our Constitution, with its separation of powers, has served us well and has allowed our democratic republic to long endure.

Written by Jane Chastain

November 16th, 2016 at 5:30 pm

3 Responses to 'Trump Ties Himself in Knots on “60 Minutes”'

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  1. Sorry, I don’t agree. I think Trump is on the right vs. wrong (and politically right) track. The Supreme Court left a big door open to clear up the Roe nightmare. The Congress only needs to pass a law that declares life begins at conception, something the Supreme Court says it needs to make a decision. I do agree that the Court has become a legislative branch, usurping the job and power of our Congress. It’s up to Congress and our new President to get some backbone and declare the Supreme Court’s opinions are just that, opinions, and not law. Andrew Jackson had a similar problem with the Supreme Court and declared the Court’s opinion is an opinion then defied the justices to enforce their opinion. Gonads!

    Warren Rosenbaum

    19 Nov 16 at 2:39 am

  2. WHAT!? Warren, in exactly what reality do you dwell? When the Supreme Court declares a law unconstitutional, it isn’t just sharing its “opinion.” It holds the power to interpret laws and declare them unconstitutional. Good luck enforcing a law that’s been declared invalid by the Court’s “opinion.”

    Also, I have a good memory. You chastised Jane for her lack of class a while ago for her entry “The Lady Has Balls.” But I guess your allusion to “gonads” is sheer elegance.

    mike

    21 Nov 16 at 2:26 pm

  3. Many of us who voted for Trump never really trusted him. He has been all over the map politically, and we patriots have been betrayed time and time again. But we did trust the Hillart…we trusted her to get us into a senseless nuclear war, or, failing that, to complete the enslavement and the social and economic ruin of America. With Trump (unlike the usual RINOs) there is at least the hope that he will keep most of his campaign promises and keep us out of war. And it is likely that,in the end, he will replace the murdered Scalia with a strict originalist…with more to follow.

    William B Stoecker

    25 Nov 16 at 10:42 am

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