President Trump has set July 9 as the day he’ll announce his pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. The speculation is focused on a list of conservative ideologues created by the right-wing Federalist Society, the same list from which Trump chose Neil Gorsuch.
However, there is one name not on this list that could make for a provocative and in many ways confounding choice: Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel.
Considering Thiel wouldn’t come from out of the blue. During Trump’s presidential campaign, there was speculation that Thiel was interested in a seat on the Court.
For a long list of reasons, Thiel would be a terrible choice for the Court. He holds some genuinely weird beliefs, including a disdain for our democratic system, which is already under stress from this White House, and he has even questioned the consequences of allowing women the vote. There’s also little reason to think that Thiel would easily trade his money-making activities and high-flying lifestyle for a regular day job.
Related: Say ‘hello’ to the man who might replace Kennedy. Then say ‘goodbye’ to marriage equality.
But then again, any of Trump’s choices is guaranteed to be awful. And as a Supreme Court justice, Thiel would have the kind of power to reshape the nation more to his liking that he would never have a mere billionaire. That’s a mighty temptation. And frankly, he would be far more likely to be an ideological maverick than anyone on the Federalist Society list, which is dominated by conservatives.
Here are 9 reasons why Thiel would be a good choice (from Trump’s perspective, if not ours) as Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
1. He’s qualified.
Nowadays Thiel is just classified as a Silicon Valley tycoon. But he has impressive legal credentials. Thiel graduated from Stanford Law School and interned at the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Thiel’s law experience may be a bit dusty, but his background is actually solid. And he’s nobody’s dummy.
2. Thiel would make history.
Thiel would be the first openly gay Supreme Court justice. Trump loves to make history; appointing Thiel would be as much about Trump as the nominee.
3. He could be on the court for decades–or possibly forever.
Trump is looking for someone who will be shaping policy for generations. Thiel is 50, so he has decades of service ahead of him. 4. Trump would be repaying a debt.
The president views everything transactionally, and Thiel stood by him during the lowest points of his presidential campaign, giving a speech at the Republican National Convention and donating more than a million big ones to his campaign. A Supreme Court nomination would be an ample reward for Thiel’s loyalty.
5. He shares Trump’s hatred of the media.
What could be more satisfying for Trump than to appoint someone who actually drove a major media company out of existence? Thiel’s campaign against Gawker is the kind of thing that Trump would envy.
6. The Court would pick up a strong business perspective.
Thiel would certainly bring the viewpoint of business to the high court, a credential almost every justice lacks. Not only that, he would bring a Silicon Valley point of view, which has been distinctly lacking in D.C. in general and might loosen Democrats dominance of that massive campaign cash.
7. It would jam Democrats.
The list of reasons to oppose a Thiel nomination would be long. However, Republicans would gleefully bash Democrats for opposing a gay man on the bench. That would be the height of hypocrisy, given the whispering campaign against Elena Kagan, but then again Republicans aren’t renowned for their honesty.
8. He would be hard to categorize.
Unlike the Federalist Society list of nominees, Thiel is a libertarian, so his beliefs don’t fit neatly into conservative orthodoxy. He’s said in the past that he doesn’t have a problem with big government, as long as it’s effective. He doesn’t really have a record on abortion rights, the main battleground for the nominee, which could be a blessing during the confirmation process. (We suspects he’s pro-choice.)
9. He’d make overturning marriage equality almost impossible.
As on many issues, Trump has spoken out of both sides of his mouth on marriage equality, depending on the audience. But of all the bigotry he’s displayed in his dreadful public life, he’s not gone out of his way to bash gays–he leaves that to his Veep. Overturning marriage equality would play well to his base, but would be a disaster among young voters and independents. Even Republicans overall support equality. The fact that Thiel married his male partner last year would likely make more conservative justices think twice about overturning this well-established precedent, and it would live up to Trump’s reported promise to Anthony Kennedy that he would not over appoint someone who would destroy his pro-gay legacy.
Related: Is Peter Thiel gunning to become the even more right-wing version of Roger Ailes?
Of course, the reasons not to choose Thiel for the Court are just as long, if not longer. The fact that he doesn’t adhere to a strict conservative orthodoxy is just one reason. Republicans still rue the day they ever approved David Souter to the Court.
For another, the religious right–the core of Trump’s support–would have a collective breakdown. Even though Thiel might well be less sympathetic to LGBTQ legal rights than Kennedy, the fact that he’s gay would be a deal killer. The religious right wants another Gorsuch, not another Richard Grenell. (Which should be a clue to Thiel that he’s in the wrong party.) On the other hand, Trump is the ultimate Teflon president with his base, and he’d be quickly forgiven, one suspects.
None of this is to say that Thiel is a good pick for the Court. If Trump wanted to make history with a gay nominee, there are dozens of others out there who respect the rights of minorities and have much longer experience in the judiciary. Todd M. Hughes is just one example. Catapulting a billionaire donor who has never really practiced law above them would be insulting. And as smart as he is, Thiel holds some corrosive views about our system, having once declared that “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.”
That’s a dangerous belief for a Supreme Court justice to hold.
This whole perspective is absurd, dumb, click-bait. This topic is a very serious matter — we will probably get the most conservative court the country has seen in 50 to 100 years. This is a historic moment. You’re too uneducated to offer any real analysis, so you wrote a long series of bad jokes. Better to say nothing at all. Go read something instead.
Did fascist Thiel pay you for this – or is he about to buy up Queerty?
I hope he buys it up and runs off the true fascists which are defined as those that run around calling other people fascist.
And once again Queerty hits a new low.
Just because Peter Thiel is gay does not mean he should be on SCOTUS. Trump shouldn’t nominate anyone. He should f*** off and resign.
This sh*t is way too scary to be joking about …
This scares a warrior?
Thank you, Queerty, for finally giving me the motivation to unsubscribe, unfollow, and unlike. Absolute trash.
Peter Thiel graduated from Stanford Law in 1992 and assisted as a court clerk until 1996. That’s his sole qualification from the perspective of any legal expertise… a level of experience decades old and unused.
I doubt that Donald Trump would nominate Peter Thiel even if he felt that Thiel would be a loyal sycophant… Thiel is too toxic. His Libertarian ideologies will alienate him from huge swaths of GOP members of Congress who have to approve his nomination. His sexual orientation will alienate him from deeply conservative members of Congress. His complete lack of experience or qualification will alienate him from the more traditional GOP members.
Donald Trump isn’t the sharpest crayon in the box, but even he can probably see that Thiel has zero chance of making it past his own party, let alone Democrats. A simple majority is all that is needed to confirm a Supreme Court nomination, but that still requires EVERY GOP member to vote Yes.
So the entire article is about something that can’t happen because this guys name isn’t even on the list.
This seems like a click bait attempt and an attempt to get a few Log Cabiners in here to start arguments.
I imagine Peter Thiel as one of the saddest people alive. Can you imagine having your entire existence be trying to contradict others? His confidence is so low that the only way he can define himself is to take any position contrary to public opinion, regardless of the logic or rationale.
Mr. Gallagher makes the valid point that a gay SCOTUS justice just might not be such a bad idea, and the ensuing attacks are as typical and hateful (and void of logic) as is to be expected from the far-left loons.
It’s become somewhat of a cliché, but Trump could cure cancer and liberals would be marching in the street demanding that cancer cells deserve a chance to live.
They truly are that unhinged.
There’s no way in the world Peter Thiel want’s to be on the Supreme Court. He has stated before he doesn’t believe it to be that effective for the type of change he’s looking for, which is politics gets in the way of technological progress and causes societal stagnation. I don’t see how you interpret Thiel as not having a problem with big government as it has been one of his many complaints consistently for years; the link you provide contradicts your point.
And please can the media stop purposefully taking out of context his quote of I know longer believe freedom and democracy are compatible; that was in regards to libertarian women being scarce as those thinkers are all men. It was a supremely pro woman argument.
Hate on Thiel all you want media. He’s a hero to everyone affected by revenge porn.
Thiel hated Gawker because the wrote that he was gay. So his whole “revenge” against Gawker was because he hated the fact that somebody correctly identified him as “LGBT”. He hated that so much about himself that he spent years trying to go after them.
Kangol That’s right the the massive corporation that went after hundreds of people, finally did journalism a favor and got stompped out of business. If you are for the gawker case, you have simply stolen revenge porn being posted on the internet, whether that is text or video. Holiday’s new book about Conspiracies and Thiel does a much better job reporting of truths, rather than the hearsays rumored on the net. The case was on involving thousands of victims, not just Thiel; he did it for everyone.
@johnhooker, ? I didn’t respond to your post. I think you’ve confused me with someone else. But as I said in my post below, Thiel’s not extreme enough. I think it’s going to be Amy Coney Barrett, who is about the most far-right of the four nominees, and that’s saying something.
He’s not nutty enough for Trump to pick. It’s going to be someone on the far, far right, who really cannot stand LGBTQ people, unions and ordinary workers, immigrants, racial and ethnic minorities, Muslims, the poor, etc. Here are some of the likely selections, and almost to a person, they’re pretty extreme.
Republican senator Collins from Maine just stated she would not support an anti-abortion pick. That alone could tip the Senate to a democratic favor which would block any anti-gay and anti-abortion pick from being chosen. This is a good thing.
Also scotus does take public opinion into consideration with their decisions. Roe versus Wade in 1975 was equally split among public opinion. Now it’s 80% for abortion with some conditions and 20% against. If scotus voted against the majority it would cause a huge public backlash which they always try to avoid. Let’s stay positive.
No, the way she laid it out was she said basically that if any nominee SAYS they are against Roe V Wade she probably couldn’t support them.
She telegraphed a plea to them. “If you just keep your mouth closed and don’t answer the question, I can vote for you.”
Collins always plays the game where instead of just voting for a right wing bill, she claims she has to think about it. Media hails her as a moderate, then 99% of the time she votes for it as soon as she gets a few articles written that call her a moderate.
She’s a phony. You have a better chance with Lisa Murkowski, because Collins and Flake will fold like a card deck if Trumpkin’s nominee even fakes it a little. OTOH, you have some very scared Democrats like Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp and Claire McCaskill who just might vote for Trump’s nominee, however extreme, so it’s going to be a struggle no matter what nutcase he nominates.
DC + Kongol
I don’t see any “probably” in her statements. If she is insincere it would seem that this issue, being a woman, may be an about face. One can only hope.
Also, Flake is anti abortion voting for an anti planned parenthood provision among other anti abortion measures.
Collins and Merkowski both have voted against anti-abortion provisions and measures. In other words they’re pro abortion, even if it’s only on the basis that Roe vs. Wade is settled law.
I do take your insights to heart, and I definitely agree regardless, that it’s going to be a struggle.
Peter Thiel is an openly gay conservative. He’s also reportedly a friend of President Trump. Why would any sane gay American want to alienate either of them? We should be hoping Thiel is advising the President to pick a SC nominee who is an ally of gay rights.
Earth to Kieran, wake up! Neither Trumpkin nor Thiel gives a damn about gay rights! Have you not paid any attention to the judges Trumpkin has nominated and the GOP have confirmed to the court so far? Do you think Neil Gorsuch is “an ally of gay rights”? Where have you been since January 20, 2017?
@Kangol Justice Anthony Kennedy, the white conservative Republican Catholic appointed to the SC by President Reagan in 1988 wound up casting the deciding Yes vote that made gay marriage the law of the land. Stop seeing everything as black and white.
@Kieran, you’re the one who sees things in black and white. The people Trump is considering are far to the right of Anthony Kennedy, Sandra Day O’Connor, or even John Roberts, all three of Roman Catholics appointed by Republican presidents. Name one of Trump’s potential nominees who isn’t far right and who is pro-gay rights. I’d appreciate learning his, her or their name(s).
PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS
Let’s face it, we’re fucked?
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