Will Trump continue Obama’s trend of Supreme Court failure?

Each president since Reagan has had a lower rate of success before the Supreme Court than his predecessor, with Obama's just over 50%; but even if he chooses four justices, Trump's success rate could go even lower.

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President Elect Donald Trump meets with President Obama at the White House.

CHARLOTTE, N.C., June 27, 2017 — One of the key issues of the 2016 presidential campaign was wide recognition that the next president would have the opportunity to nominate up to four Supreme Court justices. President Trump has already named one member of the court, and if rumors about Justice Kennedy’s intentions are true, he could nominate another this year.

While possible court appointments were an important campaign issue, it was so weighty an issue that it sank beneath the froth of a circus-like campaign that was an embarrassment to the democratic process Americans defend so dearly.

But the importance of the Court was reaffirmed yesterday, when the Court temporarily upheld Trump’s “immigration ban” from six countries associated with Islamic terror, agreed to hear arguments about Christian bakers and same-sex weddings, and ruled that money earmarked for playground safety can’t be withheld just because the children and playground operators are all Christians.


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With those decisions, the Obama administration’s immigration and social policies begin to gutter out. Obama is history and the future is here.

Joe Cunningham used the moment to analyze President Obama’s track record with the Supremes and discovered that his policies have failed in court more often than any other recent president’s. According to the statistics he uncovered, Ronald Reagan prevailed 75 percent of the time before the court. George H.W. Bush won 70 percent of the time, Bill Clinton 63 percent, and George W. Bush 60 percent.

The trend from Reagan’s presidency has been steadily downward. Clinton and George W. Bush did better in their first terms than in their second. But Obama’s tally is still a significant decline; an average of .505 is great for a batter, but nothing to celebrate in court.

“[O]ne could argue that Barack Obama’s administration is the most unconstitutional administration in history,” writes Cunningham. “It’s not like we needed the empirical evidence to back us up on that, but it sure as hell is nice to have some vindication on that, isn’t it?”

Nice, especially since Obama once taught constitutional law and acted as if he knew more about the Constitution than any of the nine sitting Supreme Court justices. He made his views on his own superior expertise clear when he used the opportunity of the State of the Union message to chastise the Court over Citizens United before a national audience.

It was quintessential Obama, telling the justices that he expected them to make favorable decisions or suffer the consequences. In the end, it was Obama who came up short. More unanimous decisions went against him than against any of his 43 predecessors.

It’s a legacy that won’t feature large in the history books, but it is a clear indication of Obama’s ineptness.


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Given the present climate in Washington and Trump’s ample skills at polarizing the country, he may outdo Obama, even if he gets to pack the Court. If the animosity against Trump ever settles down to a simmer rather than a boiling rage from the opposition, there will be major legal wars on the horizon, with ample opportunity for the Supreme Court to weigh in.

Making predictions on how the Court will rule is always perilous, but it could become even more challenging under Trump. The first major test will be the travel ban, which comes up in the fall. “The Art of the Deal” will need to edited and fine-tuned if Trump is to succeed.

The Supreme Court may decide whether Trump is remembered as a hero or a goat. It will not be pretty, but it should be interesting. And nobody will enjoy it more than Barack Obama as he lines up his next putt.

About the Author: Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)

Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News; Read more of Bob’s journeys with ALS and his journeys around the world

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