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Trump, McConnell, & conservatives must put the SCOTUS squeeze on Collins & Murkowski

Conservative Review

At 9:00 p.m. ET, President Donald Trump will announce his nominee to the Supreme Court. Then the war begins.

Regardless of who Trump picks, the Left is already mobilizing to defeat his nominee and declare as unacceptable anyone who will interpret the Constitution as originally intended. They must do this because progressivism's outcomes are anti-constitutional. Their targets will be the most liberal members of the Republican majority, Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. With a slim 51-vote majority, and with Sen. John McCain unable to vote because of his failing health, these to pro-choice moderates will be the deciding votes between Senate confirmation or rejection for any of Trump's nominees.

Don't count on so-called moderate Democrats from red states to buckle to pressure and vote for Trump's pick. They're already received their marching orders from Senate Democratic leadership."They understand it's an historic decision. It's about more than the next election," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., suggesting that blocking Trump’s nominee is more important than winning the 2018 midterms. This is the command.

The Democrats will go all out. This means it's time for President Trump, the Republican Senate majority, right-of-center media, and the conservative grassroots to go all out to put the squeeze on Collins and Murkowski.

The two senators' default position is hostile to President Trump's promise to conservatives to nominate constitutionalists who would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade — a "travesty of constitutional law," as National Review's Rich Lowry called it in an op-ed for the New York Post. Murkowski has promised to be an "independent vote." Collins has defended Roe as precedent and suggested that a nominee who would overturn precedent or "established decisions" would be unacceptable.

“I view Roe v. Wade as being settled law, it's clearly precedent and I always look for judges who respect precedent,” Collins told reporters in June. “When I evaluate judges, I always look at judicial temperament, qualifications, experience, the ABA rating and their respect for the rule of law and the Constitution. Those are exactly the same criteria that I will apply to whomever the president nominates.”

Collins later explicitly stated on CNN she "would not support a nominee who demonstrated hostility to Roe v. Wade because that would mean to me that their judicial philosophy did not include a respect for established decisions, established law."

That absurd position is unacceptable. As others have noted, by Collins' standard, nominees who would vote to overturn bad precedent set in cases like Plessy v. Ferguson (separate but equal is constitutional) or Korematsu v. United States (FDR can put American citizens of Japanese descent in internment camps) would be rejected. The Supreme Court is not sacrosanct, its justices are not angels, and its opinions are often flawed or outright wrong. The only standard by which to measure a Supreme Court nominee is by fidelity to the Constitution's original meaning as the supreme law of the United States, founded upon the immutable and eternal principles of natural law as articulated by the framers of our republic.

To pressure Collins and Murkowski to follow that standard, it's time to get tough. Conservative groups ought to launch seven-figure ad campaigns in Alaska and Maine targeting Collins and Murkowski. The Judicial Crisis Network is launching such a campaign targeting red-state Democrats in Alabama, Indiana, North Dakota, and West Virginia, but so far it is ignoring the GOP progressives. This is a mistake.

President Trump ought to plan rallies in Collins' and Murkowski's home turf. Mobilize the grassroots in their constituencies and rally support for the nominee. Threaten to endorse primary challengers against Collins and Murkowski when their terms are up if they don't unite with the party, as President Trump has already demonstrated he is willing to do when he thinks a GOP incumbent doesn't support him enough.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., if he is serious about confirming Trump's nominee, should strip Collins and Murkowski of their committee assignments if they oppose Trump's nominee on grounds other than a conviction that he or she would not be faithful to the Constitution. Deny Collins and Murkowski access to donors and leadership PAC money, as the Republican establishment has so often done against conservative candidates running for the Senate. For once, treat these rebelling moderates in the same way leadership treats rebelling conservatives. If these moderates don't play for the "team," make them pay for it.

When Sen. Durbin talks about the historic nature of this Supreme Court appointment, he is telling the truth. The next Supreme Court justice nominated by Trump will likely outlive many of the Republicans and Democrats in the Senate today. This is a battle for generations. It's time to fight with everything conservatives have.

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