Here’s what a president Trump will do to the Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC.
The United States Supreme Court in Washington, DC.
Image: AP Photo/Jon Elswick
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Donald Trump is likely to win the 2016 US presidential election, and with an equally likely sustained Republican majority in the Senate, he will be set to replace the late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia.

Trump has put together a shortlist of solidly conservative potential appointments, including Republican Utah senator Mike Lee and 10th Circuit Court of Appeals judge Timothy Tymkovich, who wrote the opinion in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, allowing companies to exempt themselves on religious grounds from the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate. It’s likely a Republican Senate will confirm any of Trump’s proposed nominees.

This may not exactly tip the court towards ideological conservatism, however. With ultra-conservative Antonin Scalia on bench, moderate chief justice John Roberts was a frequent toss-up vote, solidifying progressive decisions along with the court’s four liberal justices, including upholding the Affordable Care Act and establishing marriage equality nationwide.

However, the Republican senate will have two years before midterm elections, during which time two liberal justices—Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer—are expected to retire. If Trump is able to appoint two additional conservative justices before a possible senatorial flip in 2018, conservatives will fully control all three branches of American government.