Conservative attorney John Yoo is a George W. Bush administration alum whose most infamous accomplishment is authoring the “Torture Memos,” which justified the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” such as waterboarding. Alarmingly, even Yoo is afraid of what would happen as a result of a Donald Trump presidency.
Yoo wrote a blistering op-ed, published in the L.A. Times on Tuesday, warning that the Republican nominee’s flimsy promise to appoint conservative justices to the Supreme Court “isn’t a good enough reason to vote for Trump.” He explains that even if Trump were to keep his word when it comes to nominating justices, that would hardly outweigh the disastrous ramifications of his foreign policies.
Faced with mounting international instability, Trump’s answer is to promise an unpredictable and unreliable America. He has proposed breaking U.S. commitments to NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, closing our military bases in Japan and South Korea, repudiating security guarantees to NATO allies, pulling out of the Middle East, and ceding Eastern Europe to Russia and East Asia to China. A Trump presidency invites a cascade of global crises. Constitutional order will not thrive at home in a world beset by threats and disorder.
While he is shaking up the world, Trump will also nominate conservatives to the federal courts — or so he says. But no one should rely on his vague promises. He has already flip-flopped on numerous core issues, such as the minimum wage, tax rates and entitlement reform. Even when he announced his list of judges in May, Trump would not be pinned down.
Just to clarify, this is a guy who thinks that crushing children’s testicles is a-ok . . . and even he is afraid of Trump
Assuming Trump did follow through with his promise and named conservatives to serve on the Supreme Court, whoever he nominates would still have to be confirmed. “Senate Democrats and their allies in the media and the academy, will launch unlimited political warfare to stop conservative Supreme Court nominees,” wrote Yoo.
He added that Trump is so misinformed when it comes to the U.S. legal system that he “mistook the number of articles in the Constitution and erred in thinking that federal judges could investigate Hillary Clinton, knows the boundaries of ‘this general realm’?”
“Trump’s outbursts won’t persuade the Senate to embrace more conservative nominees, where Reagan’s sunny optimism and George H.W. Bush’s patrician decency failed,” Yoo pointed out.
Yoo isn’t the first conservative legal scholar to recognize that Supreme Court appointments are hardly a compelling reason to support Trump’s bid for the presidency.
According to Ilya Shapiro, who is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute, “there’s a lot of uncertainty” when it comes to Trump and his ability to successfully get conservative justices appointed.
How hard would Trump push to get a nominee confirmed? What would he do if his first choice were rejected? Would he make a ‘fabulous deal’ to trade judicial appointments for other priorities?
Richard Epstein, who is a Hoover Institution Fellow and an esteemed professor at both New York University School of Law and the University of Chicago Law School, has many of the same concerns as Shapiro. He said that backing Trump because of his promise to appoint conservative justices relies on “on the questionable assumption that a man of his mercurial temperament and intellectual ignorance will keep to his word.”
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