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The right questions


No one should be impressed that the president has vowed not to ask prospective Supreme Court nominees their positions on Roe v. Wade.

First, his vows — marital and otherwise — are worthless.

Second, he doesn’t need to ask the question because the Federalist Society has vetted the candidates. Only those who received the Federalist Society’s stamp of approval made Trump’s short list, and a candidate wouldn’t be on the short list if they hadn’t answered the question in the “right” — make that the “far-right” — way.

We can also be sure that the Federalist Society knows where their approved candidates stand on issues pertaining to voting rights, dark money in politics, environmental regulation, consumer protection, workers’ rights, and every other topic important to the Koch Brothers. No one on the president’s short list is about to vote to overrule Citizens United.

Undoubtedly, the folks Trump is interviewing are cut from the same ideological cloth as Thomas and Alito and, most recently, Gorsuch. They are predictable votes for repeal of the 20th Century, at least everything from the New Deal forward.

That being the case, journalists might want to focus on whether the president is asking some questions which the Federalist Society may have overlooked in its pre-election vetting. Such questions would include:

“Must a president respond to a subpoena?”

“Can a president be indicted?””

“Can a president pardon himself?”

“If a president pardons his alleged co-conspirators is that obstruction of justice?”

“If I appoint you to the Court and a case raising any one of these issues comes before you, will you recuse yourself — or will you have my back?” This one is likely to be asked in a less direct manner – perhaps with a subtle nod and a knowing wink. But however the question is asked, it comes down to the president’s insistence on loyalty, not to the United States Constitution, but to Donald J. Trump.

I’m betting the president, as always focused on his own welfare, is especially eager to know where the finalists stand on these questions. I want to know if asking these questions is part of his interview process, either formally or informally. And if it is, we — the American people — need to know the candidates’ answers.

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