After more than a year of campaigning, jockeying for position, and one bizarre and often inflammatory twist and turn after another, the 2016 presidential election is over, and Donald Trump is now officially the president-elect of the United States. Which means he has a rather pressing responsibility ahead of him ― picking a qualified nominee for the Supreme Court, to hopefully end this ongoing 4-4 deadlock that's hung over America's foremost judicial body for 10 months now. So, when will the next Supreme Court justice be nominated, and will it be smooth sailing, or yet another slog through the swamps of partisan gridlock?
Well, with Trump's shocking victory, the entire path forward that countless political observers had imagined for the court surely won't be how things play out. President Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, is now likely firmly shut out of the process, and the people Trump listed as options during his campaign are very much on the table. Considering Trump will also have the benefit of a GOP-controlled Congress, he'll probably move on this quickly, at least within his first month. It'll be up to the Democrats to decide how to respond, and whether to attempt the same sorts of obstructionist tactics the GOP foisted on Obama over the last eight years.
The only thing that seems clear is that there's going to be political resistance, and that could definitely factor into the future president's decision-making about both whom to nominate, and how soon. There's a case to be made that a Supreme Court fight is an awkward and overly-contentious way to start an administration, setting a combative early tone with the Congress that could end up causing harm to a new president's policy goals.
It's also true, however, that the extreme partisan polarization and stonewalling tactics that have been seen from the congressional GOP in recent years suggests that a combative, no-compromise tone may be baked into the equation no matter who's in charge. It's not exactly realistic to think that even Democrats in Congress would play ball with a Republican president these days, considering how the Obama era has gone. Suffice to say, no matter what happens, it could lead to some considerable fireworks on Capitol Hill.