How the Supreme Court could change during Trump's presidency

Published:
Updated:

When Donald Trump takes office in 2017, he will try to fill the vacant seat currently on the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court went down to eight when Justice Scalia died. Republicans stopped President Obama's nomination.

“We could go down to six and they could continue to function,” said OSU Constitutional Law Professor Ruth Colker.

Colker explains nine isn't the set number and Senate Democrats do, right now, have the power to keep the court at eight. Trump could make a nomination, Republicans would hold hearings, but Democrats could block a vote by filibustering.

But, Republicans have the power to get rid of the filibuster first.

“It only takes a mere majority of the Senate to change the rules,” said Colker.

With no filibuster, the nomination would likely go straight through, since the Senate is now 51 Republicans and 47 Democrats.

“It would merely take a majority of the US senate to confirm,” said Colker. “To fill the Justice Scalia seat with another conservative doesn’t change the fulcrum of the court.”

But Justice Breyer is 78, Kennedy is 80 and Ginsburg is 83. If another seat opens and it’s filled with another conservative justice, could key decisions, like gay marriage, be reversed?

“I don’t see that happening, I don’t think the Republicans even have the stomach for that,” said Colker.

Colker went on to explain gay marriage wasn't an issue for Trump and many Republicans do support it. As for abortion.

“Overturning Roe versus Wade is a pretty radical step, it’s been on the books since 1973,” said Colker. “I think we can expect the court to approve more restrictions on abortion.”

But affirmative action is the issue Colker thinks will get another look.

“Were Trump to get two appointments on the court, would affirmative action be declared unconstitutional? I can well imagine that,” said Colker.

Colker also addressed executive orders, saying Trump can reverse Obama's decisions. She thinks steps Obama took with immigration and the Affordable Care Act will just disappear.