Some Republican partisans have probably made an uncomfortable calculus: Donald Trump may not be fit for the presidency, they’ve conceded to themselves, but given the state of the Supreme Court, GOP voters will have to hold their noses and vote for an unqualified, and potentially dangerous, candidate.
UC Berkeley’s John Yoo, perhaps best known as the author of the Bush/Cheney “torture memos,” co-wrote an L.A. Times op-ed yesterday in which he rejected the thesis. As Yoo and George Mason University’s Jeremy Rabkin argued, the damage Trump would do to American foreign policy outweighs potential conservative gains in the judiciary.
As conservative law professors, we share the concern that a Hillary Clinton victory would halt decades of efforts to restore an originalist interpretation of the Constitution…. But the Supreme Court is not enough. […]Faced with mounting international instability, Trump’s answer is to promise an unpredictable and unreliable America. He has proposed breaking U.S. commitments to NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, closing our military bases in Japan and South Korea, repudiating security guarantees to NATO allies, pulling out of the Middle East, and ceding Eastern Europe to Russia and East Asia to China. A Trump presidency invites a cascade of global crises. Constitutional order will not thrive at home in a world beset by threats and disorder.
Yoo and Rabkin added that conservatives shouldn’t even count on Trump’s “vague promises” to nominate conservative jurists to the bench. They noted, for example, that the Republican candidate’s credibility on the subject is inherently suspect given the fact that he “mistook the number of articles in the Constitution and erred in thinking that federal judges could investigate Hillary Clinton.”
In the larger context, there are quite a few former officials from the Bush/Cheney administration who’ve balked at Trump’s candidacy, and some cabinet secretaries have even thrown their support behind Hillary Clinton. But who would’ve expected John Yoo to become such a prominent critic of the Republican nominee during the election season?
Remember, this op-ed isn’t the conservative’s first foray into the campaign. In June, reflecting on Trump’s radical legal views, Yoo condemned the candidate’s “disturbing” perspective.
And as we joked at the time, when John Yoo thinks your views on government abuses are excessive, it’s not a good sign.