Christie Thinks He Can Control Future Supreme Court Decisions

Christie Thinks He Can Control Future Supreme Court Decisions July 7, 2015

Chris Christie went on Fox News Sunday and claimed that if he were president and had appointed justices to the Supreme Court, it would not have upheld federal subsidies for the Affordable Care Act or overturned state laws banning same-sex marriage.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie said on Sunday Supreme Court justices of his liking would not have legalized same-sex marriage and would have struck down a key provision of a national health care law.

The two landmark rulings last month angered many conservative Americans and several Republican presidential candidates have condemned the decisions.

Christie, who announced last week he was joining the Republican field in the 2016 presidential election, said the Supreme Court’s justices were not conservative enough, and cited his record nominating state judges who oppose “meddling in the business of the executive and legislative branch.”

“If the Christie-type justices had been on that court in the majority, we would have won those cases in the Supreme Court rather than lost them,” he told “Fox News Sunday” in an interview.

Now that’s just funny. If he’d been nominating justices in 2005 to replace Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice O’Connor, John Roberts would have been right at the top of his list too. Roberts was viewed as a dogmatic conservative who would never, ever sell out conservative principles. In fact, he was one of the first people whose job it was to identify conservatives who would remain conservative once on the bench so they could be appointed to federal judgeships, part of an effort to avoid justices who slide to the left once on the bench, like O’Connor, Souter, Blackmun and Stevens.

But a funny thing happens when a judge gets lifetime tenure on the Supreme Court. They are no longer bound to apply higher court rulings faithfully. They can’t be overturned by a higher court. And they no longer have to worry about getting on the lists of potential nominees put out by the Federalist Society, lists from which Republican presidents choose their nominees. The lifetime tenure and insulation from political pressure means they can actually follow their conscience. That doesn’t mean they will, but it means they can, in a way they could not do previously.

No president can control that. It doesn’t matter how many questions you ask or how you ask them, you can’t be certain that they’re going to vote the way you want them to every time. Once you place them on the bench, you have no control over what they’re going to do.


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