Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis expanded upon his vision for a Christofascist America to a crowd of evangelical broadcasters Monday, promising that the Supreme Court will be captured forever on his watch. He’ll have the opportunity, he told the crowd, to appoint as many as four justices—one more than Donald Trump! Because out-Trumping Trump is his main hope in securing the 2024 Republican nomination.
While DeSantis explained that he holds Clarence Thomas up as his model justice, he’ll have to go—as will Justice Samuel Alito, DeSantis suggested. He’s also gunning for Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sonia Sotomayor. They’ll all be gone before the end of his eight years in office, the other promise he made to the crowd. Trump would have just four more years, DeSantis insinuated, but he’ll have two terms.
“I think if you look over the next two presidential terms, there is a good chance that you could be called upon to seek replacements for Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito and the issue with that is, you can’t really do better than those two,” DeSantis told the religious broadcasters. “[I]f you replace a Clarence Thomas with somebody like a Roberts or somebody like that, then you’re gonna actually see the court move to the left, and you can’t do that.”
No, that won’t do. For the “improvements” DeSantis envisions, Roberts, who has seen the court swing far right under his watch, has to go. Sotomayor’s time is about up as well, he suggested. “So it is possible that in those eight years, we have the opportunity to fortify justices … Alito and Thomas as well as actually make improvements with those others, and if you were able to do that, you would have a 7-2 conservative majority on the Supreme Court that would last a quarter century,” he said, to what The Washington Post describes as “raucous applause.”
It would last longer than a quarter of a century, a recent theoretical analysis by Supreme Court scholars suggests. Republican appointees to the high court have outnumbered Democratic ones 42 to 12 since 1970. Democratic presidents couldn’t have a majority of the appointments until 2065, according to their extrapolations from the historical trend.
Should DeSantis or Trump (or any of the rest of the pack nipping at their heels) take the White House in 2024, there might not be a chance for another Democratic president to nominate a justice for decades to come. Free and fair elections would be the first casualty in a second Trump term. DeSantis isn’t going to do any less. The Trump-packed Supreme Court could very well be willing to help achieve the goal of a permanent Republican regime. Considering the lurch to the right in recent years despite Democrats winning seven of the last eight national popular votes in presidential elections, we are already well on our way.
That makes the idea of court expansion to dilute the power of the conservatives packed on the court look positively reasonable and rational. And necessary.
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Jennifer Fernandez Ancona from Way to Win joins Markos and Kerry to talk about the new messaging the Democratic Party’s national candidates are employing going into 2024. Ancona was right about the messaging needed to win the midterms, and we think she’s right about 2024.