It’s no secret that many anti-establishment Tea-Party and/or libertarian conservatives don’t like Mitt Romney. Still, many are so fed up with Obama that they seem to be searching for reasons to justify voting for Romney anyway.
One oft-cited reason has to do with the Supreme Court, whose justices tend to be reliably “conservative” or “liberal.” Since they serve for life, it’s a pretty big deal when a President gets to appoint one, and he generally tries to appoint someone who fits his ideology (assuming he can get the current Congress to approve the person). I’ve seen conservatives who don’t like Romney say they plan to vote for him at least so he can appoint conservative judges.
But the problem with this logic is that you can’t rely on conservative-appointed judges to vote conservatively, and we need to look no further than the recent Obamacare decision. ”Conservative” Chief Justice John Roberts, who had been appointed by George W. Bush, joined the “liberal” judges in voting to uphold Obamacare. It was so startling that conservatives have spent an agonizing two weeks theorizing about Roberts’s motivation, with some pretending it was a secretly genius way to limit liberals while preserving the legitimacy of the court, and others speculating about epilepsy or blackmail.
This is not the first time a “conservative” judge has betrayed his appointer’s party, either. Roberts’s betrayal has drawn comparisons to “liberal” judge David Souter (appointed by George H. W. Bush). Certainly a Republican president is on average more likely to appoint conservative judges than a Democratic president. But if your only reason for voting Romney instead of Gary Johnson is for the hope of conservative judges, well, that seems like a pretty big gamble to me. (Amusingly, Mitt Romney’s campaign website still claims he will “nominate judges in the mold of Chief Justice Roberts…“)
Now there may still be plenty of reasons to vote for Romney, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable for disillusioned conservatives to believe that Romney is generally likely to be better than Obama. Personally I feel that Mitt Romney is pretty much the same as Barack Obama on so many important issues that I would rather contribute to the third-party protest vote (maybe if enough people do we can finally get over the “wasted vote” hurdle of public thinking; or maybe we can pull enough votes to scare the major parties into throwing some bones our way; etc). To phrase it another way: what makes you think Romney would be better (for the country and for conservatives) than Bush?
But whatever you decide, just don’t put all your eggs in the judge appointee basket.
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