A strengthened conservative coalition

By Daniel McCarthy, columnist at The Spectator and editor of Modern Age

A new and newly invigorated kind of conservative coalition is likely to be the biggest consequence of a third Trump appointment to the Supreme Court. When Trump shows that he can deliver for such traditional constituencies on the right as the Federalist Society and Christian conservatives, he strengthens the bonds between his brand of nationalism and the older Reaganite coalition. The result is to revive the fortunes of the older parts of the right while giving them strong reasons to support populists like Trump in the future. This makes Trump as important a figure on the right, in cementing a coalition into a single movement, as President Reagan was. And that will shape our politics for a long time to come. Just consider how the Republicans who took over Congress after the 1994 midterms aspired to be seen as Reaganites, or the way that George W. Bush’s supporters portrayed him as more Reagan’s heir than his own father’s. If Trump is able to get a strong conservative confirmed in the midst of a re-election effort, he will have shaped the right for years if not decades to come, whether he wins the White House again or not.

The irony is that just as Reagan’s Supreme Court nominees Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy wound up becoming swing votes rather than reliable conservative ones, Trump’s success in adding another justice may prompt Republican-appointed justices John Roberts and Neil Gorsuch to move to the center to re-balance the court and preserve its elite prestige. This means a hard right turn in the court’s jurisprudence is not to be expected. The political ramifications of Trump’s SCOTUS success are apt to be wider than the legal ones.

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