Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico pitched reporters on a subplot from the Emmy Award-winning program The West Wing on Monday, in which the Senate would confirm one liberal and one conservative nominee for the Supreme Court simultaneously.
In season five, episode 17 of the series — called “The Supremes” — a young conservative jurist on the Supreme Court, Owen Brady, unexpectedly dies during the administration of a Democratic president, Jed Bartlett. In a fit of cloying idealism that characterizes much of the series, Bartlett’s energetic young staff, hopes to elevate progressive firebrand Evelyn Baker Lang to the seat. By episode’s end, the administration convinces the ailing chief justice, liberal lion Roy Ashland, to step aside, on the condition he is succeeded by Lang. In turn, Bartlett appoints conservative stalwart Christopher Mulready to Brady’s seat.
Udall proposes a similar arrangement: Gorsuch could succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia, and Judge Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to the seat, could succeed Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or Stephen Breyer. All three are advanced in age.
“You had President Trump saying, ‘I want to unite the country, I’m a deal-maker, I’m going to bring people together,'” Udall told reporters following his meeting with Gorsuch Monday. “Well, the deal right now for President Trump, if he wanted to do it, would be to put Gorsuch and Merrick Garland on the court at the same time.”
Adam Liptak of The New York Times first reported the White House anticipates Justice Anthony Kennedy will retire in the coming years, and hopes to replace him with Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit or Judge Raymond Kethledge of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
“It’s an idea,” Udall added. “It’s just an idea, I threw it out to them, I throw it out to you.”
An aide to the senator later clarified that Udall did not get the idea from the program, with which he is generally unfamiliar.
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