Donald Trump says a lot of things. We’ve become all too used to that now. Some of these things should probably be taken with a grain of salt — “Only Rosie O’Donnell” comes to mind — but some deserve to be analyzed more closely.
Here’s an example. Remember Trump’s discussion about Supreme Court Justices back in August with Bloomberg Politics? Mark Halperin asked Trump, “Is there someone out there today who isn’t on the [Supreme Court], but say, this is the kind of person I would consider for the court? How about your sister? Think she’d be a good Supreme Court Justice?”
Trump responded, “Well, I don’t want to mention names, I think it’s inappropriate to mention names, certainly at this stage so early when we have a long way to go. Oh, my sister’s great. I have a sister who’s on the Court of Appeals and she’s fantastic. I think she would be phenomenal. I think she would be one of the best. But frankly, uh, I think she — we’ll have to rule that out now, at least temporarily. But I do have a sister who’s very smart and a very good person.”
Trump has generally been coy about Supreme Court justices, avoiding specifics and certainly not giving any insight into his personal litmus test or whether he even has one. He has praised Justice Clarence Thomas as “strong and consistent,” while calling Chief Justice John Roberts “disgraceful.” He recently criticized Justice Antonin Scalia for his comments opposing affirmative action during a Supreme Court hearing.
But outside vague statements of support or opposition, he has said very little about case law. Would he appoint justices that would overturn Roe v. Wade? Does he believe the Obergefell v. Hodges case’s radical finding of a constitutional right to gay marriage was based on sound jurisprudence? What about Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, or NFIB v. Sebelius?
Honestly, we have no idea.
So let’s go off of what we know — he loves his sister and thinks she would be a “phenomenal” Supreme Court Justice. Let’s take a look at Judge Maryanne Trump Barry of the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
Barry was appointed to the Third Circuit in 1999 by President Bill Clinton, even though she identified as a Republican. She was unanimously confirmed by the U.S Senate later that year.
She has been involved in hundreds of cases, but one of the first cases in her tenure sticks out the most: Planned Parenthood of Central New Jersey v. Farmer, which was argued in late 1999 and filed in July 2000.The Third Circuit struck down the New Jersey Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 1997, and Barry wrote in her majority opinion that the law “places an undue burden on a woman’s constitutional right to obtain an abortion.”
Barry didn’t stop there. She continued by giving a full-throated defense for legalizing infanticide:
“The Legislature’s argument that Roe and Casey are inapplicable to ‘partial-birth” abortion procedures because such procedures are infanticide rather than abortion is based on semantic machinations, irrational line-drawing, and an obvious attempt to inflame public opinion instead of logic or medical evidence,” Barry wrote.
“…In what can only be described as a desperate attempt to circumvent over twenty-five years of abortion jurisprudence, the Legislature would draw a line based upon the location in the woman’s body where the fetus expires,” Barry continued. “Establishing the cervix as the demarcation line between abortion and infanticide is nonsensical on its face as well as inaccurate because that line may be crossed in any number of abortion procedures which the Legislature concedes are constitutionally protected.… The Legislature’s attempt to label the Act a birth, instead of an abortion, regulation is nothing more than an effort to cloud the issues and avoid clear precedent.”
Wow — all that coming from a “Republican” judge! Barry’s argument was essentially a legal defense of a birth not being a birth unless the person giving birth desires it to be a birth. According to Judge Barry, there should be no other considerations — and none whatsoever for the living, breathing child itself.
And this is who Donald Trump thinks of first for a Supreme Court Justice nominee?
Clarity is sorely needed. Donald Trump is the Republican frontrunner, and Iowa is a little more than a month away. Is Maryanne Trump Barry the type of Supreme Court justice he plans on appointing? Someone who will hand down constitutional rulings to protect infanticide — the literal murder of living, breathing children outside the womb?
This is very important. The Republican Party has had a rough history with appointing Supreme Court Justices. While Democratic Presidents have done a good job at appointing sure votes for liberal causes, Republican Presidents have had mixed results — Anthony Kennedy (Reagan) has always been a shaky vote, and John Roberts (George W. Bush) helped make Obamacare the law of the land. We would do well, if we get a Republican President in 2017, to nominate justices that will defend life, respect religious liberty, and adhere to the constitutional principles that helped make America so great.
Donald Trump may very well be that nominee. But will he appoint Supreme Court Justices in the same vein as his sister, who has defended abortion as a judge up to the moment of birth and beyond? Or will he appoint a more conservative voice like Justice Thomas, who Trump has gone out of his way to praise repeatedly?
We don’t know. And we need to know.