President Donald Trump said Friday he will “reject” the “judicial activism and policymaking from the bench” that liberals both crave and fear when selecting outgoing Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s replacement.
“In choosing Justice Kennedy’s replacement, my greatest responsibility is to select a justice who will faithfully interpret the Constitution as written,” Trump said during his weekly address. “Judges are not supposed to rewrite the law, reinvent the Constitution, or substitute their own opinions for the will of the people expressed through their laws.”
He added, “We reject judicial activism and policymaking from the bench. In choosing a new justice, I will select someone with impeccable credentials, great intellect, unbiased judgment, and deep reverence for the laws and Constitution of the United States.”
Kennedy threw liberals into panic mode on June 27 when he announced his plan to retire at the end of the month. Democrats who cheered Kennedy’s key swing-vote decisions on cases such as Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 — which legalized gay marriage — claimed he betrayed them by allowing Trump to nominate his successor.
In particular, many liberals fear Trump will nominate a justice who will work to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that legalized abortion in 1973. They point to promises Trump made on the campaign trail to appoint pro-life justices of whom conservatives would approve.
But Trump insisted Friday that he will appoint a Kennedy replacement who issues “neutral judgments based on those laws and the Constitution we have sworn to protect.”
“The faithful application of the Constitution is the bedrock of our freedom, the foundation of our society and the linchpin of our government,” Trump noted. “The American system tasked Congress with writing the laws, the executive with enforcing the laws, and the judiciary with issuing neutral judgments based upon those laws and the Constitution we have sworn to protect.”
Reluctant to grant Trump a second Supreme Court appointment after Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation in 2017, liberal lawmakers and activists urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to stall the confirmation process until after the 2018 midterm elections.
“Last year, I was proud to appoint Justice Kennedy’s former law clerk, Neil Gorsuch, to the Supreme Court,” Trump said. “Over the last year, Justice Gorsuch has embodied the most sacred principles of the court — making impartial decisions based upon the Constitution.”
Trump promised that Kennedy’s successor would embody the same principles that drew him to select Gorsuch. The president has interviewed six judges from his shortlist: Judges Brett Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett, Amul Thapar, Joan Larsen, and Thomas Hardiman. All of them serve on U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals.
Trump will announce his nominee Monday at 9 p.m. EST.
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