Media Push Raymond Kethledge’s Inevitability

Raymond Kethledge
Associated Press

Judge Raymond Kethledge is being increasingly portrayed as the “consensus” or “compromise” candidate for the Supreme Court in media descriptions of President Donald Trump’s decision making process, suggesting his inevitability despite concerns over such a pick among Trump’s base.

“As Donald Trump moves to finalize his Supreme Court pick, Judge Raymond Kethledge is getting a behind-the-scenes push portraying him as the consensus choice of conservatives,” Politico reported Thursday, citing positive interviews and support by conservatives like Hugh Hewitt, many of whom are strongly linked with “Never Trump” sentiments.

The narrative picked up from there. On Friday, The Hill adopted Hewitt’s “Gorsuch 2.0” descriptor, imparting, as Hewitt had, an air of inevitability to a Kethledge pick.

The Daily Mail, meanwhile, went all out on the “compromise” narrative. Slamming other possibilities like Judges Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Barrett, the Mail’s Geoff Earle writes, “An emerging potential ‘compromise’ pick to win President Trump’s nomination to serve on the Supreme Court has Midwest roots lauds people who drink beer ‘straight out of the bottle.'”

In contrast to effusive praise of Kethledge’s “heartland appeal,” Judge Barrett is described as “a member of a controversial religious group” who “is being pushed by some evangelical leaders.”

On Saturday, the left-leaning press joined in characterizing the Kethledge as the Supreme Court contender as the likely conservative choice. “Kethledge enters spotlight as conservatives look for ‘Gorsuch 2.0,’” a Saturday Washington Post headline read.

That story later notes, “Kethledge’s rapid ascent in recent days has been marked with praise from supporters calling him “Gorsuch 2.0” — a reference to Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, another conservative former Kennedy clerk whom Trump nominated last year,” although the Washington Post, unlike the above stories, does note the growing concerns over Kethledge’s immigration record as a potential hurdle.

A similar piece in the New York Times, which cites the “Gorsuch 2.0” moniker, also notes these concerns with reference to Friday’s Breitbart News report on Kethledge and immigration.

New York Times conservative columnist Ross Douthat made clear that he would look most favorably on a nomination of Judge Amy Barrett in his Saturday column. Nevertheless, he too portrays Kethledge as a “compromise” candidate. “[T]he president is deciding between trusting the conservative legal establishment, which hasn’t led him astray so far, and trusting his own affinities, which seemingly point toward Kethledge as a compromise between the legal elites and the Barrett-preferring base,” he writes.

Despite these increasing frequent media references to Kethledge as the conservative concensus pick, serious concerns over his suitability for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court have hardly been put to rest. Speaking on condition of anonymity, one prominent conservative lawyer who has practiced before the Supreme Court echoed the concerns of other legal conservatives that Kethledge would not be the type of influential originalist justice President Trump has indicated he wants to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy. “Can you name even one court decision from Kethledge that has thrown a punch for the Constitution and moved the ball in the right direction, making liberals push back against him? The answer is no,” the lawyer told Breitbart News

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