Opinion

Two words for Jill Stein supporters: Court appointments

This is the best argument for Clinton skeptics to vote Hillary

Hillary Clinton's problem with young people is still evident in a recent McClatchy/Marist poll. While 47 percent of voters aged 18 to 29 support her (tying 45- to 59-year-olds for the highest level), a third of them are still planning to vote for a third party.

So, for Clinton partisans out to convince Jill Stein supporters to pull the lever for Hillary (or the ones who live in a swing state and hence are meaningfully enfranchised, at any rate), here is the best argument to do so.

It comes via a pseudonymous attorney who goes by @kept_simple, and can be summarized in two words: court appointments. America has an unusually powerful court system, both for good and for ill, and so the composition of the federal judiciary is hugely important. Here's the meat of the case:

The ability to appoint federal judges is one of a president’s most important powers. Appointing a judge is comparatively much easier for a president than indirectly shepherding legislation through Congress (notwithstanding Merrick Garland’s ongoing entombment in the Capitol crypts), requiring only the consent of the Senate rather than passage by both houses of Congress. Furthermore, a judge with a lifetime appointment allows a president’s influence over policy to continue long after he or she leaves office. [Medium]

What's more, Democrat-appointed judges are likely to be substantially to the left of the people who appointed them. He compares Bill Clinton's rather abysmal record on criminal justice and welfare policy to the far more progressive decisions handed down by his Supreme Court appointees, who have no need to triangulate against leftists to win.

The same will certainly be true of most Hillary Clinton appointees. Federal judge nominees are generally taken from the pool of elite lawyers loyal to the Democratic Party. Highly educated people skew liberal in general, and any attorney likely to be appointed as a judge will be on the leftward edge of that spectrum.

And since there is a decent chance that Democrats will take back the Senate in November, Clinton will have a golden opportunity to fill the many vacancies left by two years of Republicans bottling up all Obama's nominees, including a seat on the Supreme Court.

It's no panacea, of course. Judges, including those appointed by Democrats, can make wretched decisions like anyone else.

But witness Barack Obama's appointments to the federal judiciary, which have quietly transformed that institution over his presidency. When he first became president, only one of the 13 federal courts of appeal had a Democratic majority — but now nine of them do. As a result, many Republican political and legal initiatives have run into legal roadblocks. Most notably, efforts by Republican state governments to prevent blacks and other Democratic-leaning constituencies from voting have been repeatedly overturned by Obama-appointed federal judges, sometimes with blistering attacks on their racist intent.

This leads me to the second-best reason to vote Clinton. Since she will probably not lead Democrats to take the House of Representatives, executive actions are the only realistic prospect for action on all manner of critical problems. Most importantly, President Obama's Clean Power Plan — the only climate policy currently imaginable, which Clinton has pledged to protect and extend — is under legal challenge in front of the D.C. Circuit Court.

Having Clinton in place to keep pushing that initiative, and to stack the federal judiciary with liberals who will protect it, is critical to making any forward progress whatsoever on the most urgent problem facing human society today. Conversely, if Trump wins, you can kiss all that goodbye — particularly the Supreme Court, which would no doubt be stuffed full of reactionary 30-year-old phrenologists from Taki Mag.

So, for young swing state Clinton skeptics, think of the EPA before you vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein.

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