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What Does a Donald Trump Presidency Mean for The Supreme Court?

Nov. 18, 2016

The historic November 8th victory of Donald Trump has the potential to impact Federal law. Now that the Republican Party controls the Senate and Presidency the dynamics of the Supreme Court will change. After the Presidential inauguration on January 20, 2017, Donald Trump will nominate someone to fill the current vacancy on the Supreme Court. Prior to the election Judge Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals, was nominated for the position following the death of Justice Anthony Scalia. Judge Garland was previously under consideration in both 2009 and 2010 following the retirements of Justice David Souter and Justice John Paul Stevens.

Potential Supreme Court Nominees

In mid-May, Donald Trump released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees in order to assure voters that he was considering more than just conservative Judges. The list consisted of eight judicial candidates including Dianne S. Sykes, Joan Larsen (who previously served as a clerk to Justice Scalia), Thomas Rex Lee, and Don Willett. Legal analysts and law professors expect the President-elect to select a nominee who will best represent his party, help address his campaign promises, and ultimately uphold the Constitution of the United States. It is very unlikely that the previous nomination of Judge Merrick Garland will be supported by Donald Trump following his inauguration.

Potential Supreme Court Nominees

Blocking a potential Supreme Court appointment is a common practice in modern obstructionist politics. Since February 2016, the Senate Republicans have refused to consider any nominee that was put forward by President Obama, and it is expected that the Senate Democrats will also do what they can to block a conservative nominee put forward under President Trump. A filibuster may be organized to forestall an appointment, but it will be difficult for the Democrats in the Senate to succeed if the Republicans remain loyal to their party. It is expected that both parties will work towards a pragmatic compromise that ultimately provides each side with long-term political protection. Agreeing to a neutral candidate that does not lean too far right or left can help prevent a constitutional crisis.

Possible Impact on Federal Law

Donald Trump has previously stated that any nominee he puts forward will support efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case in which access to abortions became a right of all women. It seems likely President-Elect Trump will have an opportunity to appoint more than one Supreme Court justice, particularly so if he is elected to a second term. Should additional seats become open on the Supreme Court over the next four years, Donald Trump’s Presidency will have an even greater opportunity to affect the future development of Federal law. Justice Ginsburg is 83 and Justice Kennedy is 80. In addition to affecting Federal law by changing the political power structure of the Supreme Court, Trump may be able to have an impact on a wide range of Federal laws at the legislative level. A GOP congressional majority, with Presidential support, could lead to changes in consumer financial protection, the Affordable Care Act, environmental laws, and the tax code.

The potential changes to laws that impact civil rights might leave you wondering how your personal and professional life will be affected. Boston Avenue Law is prepared to help you navigate this transition and period of change. Our team of experienced attorneys conveniently located in Tulsa, Oklahoma are ready to assist you with any legal concerns. We are ready to answer your questions and provide advice regarding your unique situation. Call our office today to schedule a consultation.