The winds swirling around the presidential campaignare now at gale force as the death of a legend, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has moved the nation’s highest court onto center stage.
If the president plays this just right, he will not only cement his place in judicial history for a record number of federal court appointments, but also catapult himself past a somnolent contender who is after his job.
In the past few days, all eyes were on Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
It made sense.
She’s a superlative jurist and law professor who checks nearly every key box on the application: skilled, articulate, smart, consistent, and conservative.
Barrett, the runner-up to the last nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, also sports another less-known edge: she hails from Indiana, Vice President Mike Pence's home base.
Although Indiana is solidly red and not in play in the presidential derby, some suggest Barrett could help boost the president’s electoral fortunes in the Midwest where polls have tightened.
This was all before Mike Bloomberg, the accomplished New Yorker who tallied nada in his audition for president, waded into the nation’s premier political battleground — the state of Florida — with a tidal wave of money to help ex-felons take the president down.
In a snub of Florida statute(s) forbidding the practice of buying votes, Bloomberg is paying off $20-million in court penalties and settlements so 31,000 ex-felons can vote in this election, that is, 31,000 votes in a state that once decided the presidency by a mere 537 votes, and needed recounts less than two years ago to decide the races for governor and U.S. Senate.
Bloomberg also pledged another $100-million to win Florida for Joe Biden.
Like a brash New Yorker, Bloomberg believes Florida is for sale; he’s buying up voter real estate there by the tens of thousands — backed by a bank account measured in the tens of billions.
This means Florida is more fully in play than before, and that the president can counter Bloomberg’s callous buyout by nominating the other major Supreme contender, Barbara Lagoa.
Judge Lagoa’s legal credentials are impressive, her story line is story book (the daughter of Cuban exiles who fled Castro’s tyranny, the defender of Elian Gonzales forced back to Cuba after his mother drowned in a boatlift, the first Hispanic woman to sit on the Florida Supreme Court) — and oh, by the way — she’s from Florida.
While Barrett is preferred by Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and clearly by her home state VIP, the vice president, Lagoa would resonate not just with Cuban-Americans in South Florida, but also Hispanics in Texas, New York, and California who see in her their own hopesfor achievement.
The president has made it known he will announce his pick before the first televised debate shortly after he returns from a critical campaign swing through Florida.
What better news could the president deliver than a Supreme Court nominee that helps keep that bellwether state in the win column?
Assuming Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, continues his march to political resurrection by voting for a nominee he is sure to like as an ideological soulmate, and that Mitt bell cows fellow GOP Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski to follow suit, this will reshape the Court for generations.
Ultimately, Donald Trump’s greatest legacy will not involve border walls but halls of justice. He has already appointed more conservative justices to the lower courts than any President in history — 231 at last count — not to mention two other Supreme Court Justices, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh.
If the president looks south versus north for his Supreme Court pick, he will not only impact the high court for generations, but also an election that promises to do the same.
Adam Goodman is a national Republican media strategist and columnist. He is a partner at Ballard Partners in Washington D.C. He is also the first Edward R. Murrow Senior Fellow at Tufts University's Fletcher School. Follow him on Twitter @adamgoodman3. Read Adam Goodman's Reports — More Here.
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