Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis slighted former President Donald Trump’s picks Monday, saying they came up short of what DeSantis called the “gold standard” set by two of the court’s other conservative justices.
When asked by radio host Hugh Hewitt if he would “pledge to the Republicans as you go around the country that your judges will be like the Trump judges,” the 44-year-old DeSantis responded: “Well, actually, I would say we’ll do better than that.
“I respect the three appointees he did, but none of those three are at the same level of Justice [Clarence] Thomas and Justice [Samuel] Alito,” DeSantis said of Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. “I think they [Alito and Thomas] are the gold standard.”
DeSantis went on to vow that if he is elected next year, his nominations for the high court “will be along the lines of a Sam Alito and a Clarence Thomas.”
“I inherited a very liberal state supreme court, maybe the most liberal in the country, very activist. But I was able to replace three of the four liberals my first month in office,” DeSantis said of his work as governor. “We have a really good track record on doing that. And in fact, two of my supreme court picks [Barbara Lagoa and Robert J. Luck] in my first year of office were elevated to the 11th Circuit by President Donald Trump.”
DeSantis had praised Trump’s Supreme Court picks in the past.
“@realDonaldTrump made an outstanding choice for the U.S. Supreme Court in Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who has had an exemplary legal career & been a terrific judge. She will apply the law of the Constitution faithfully & serve as an inspiration to millions of our fellow citizens,” he tweeted in September 2020.
While a congressman in 2017, DeSantis praised Gorsuch as a “promising” choice by Trump, adding that the jurist had “a strong grasp of the Constitution” and “top-notch writing skills.”
When Kavanaugh was nominated in the summer of 2018, DeSantis — by then running for governor — called him “someone who understands Constitution & can apply constitutional principles in persuasive way.”
In response to DeSantis, Trump’s campaign pointed out the governor’s prior praise of Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett — all of whom voted to .
“Ron’s latest flip-flop has left many wondering if he tripped in his high-heel boots and hit his head or is simply hallucinating from his , as he seems to have forgotten countless statements he made in the past praising President Trump’s nominations of Justice Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett,” read a campaign statement.
DeSantis also previewed his plans for a “big swing” with the Senate reconciliation process during his first year as president.
To bypass the filibuster in the Senate, presidents have recently leaned on reconciliation, which requires a simple majority to pass big-ticket items. For instance, under Trump, the GOP deployed reconciliation to pass tax reform without needing the 60 votes to break a filibuster.
“It is going to be more than just one because Biden expanded reconciliation,” DeSantis stressed. “Obviously we are going to shut down the border … Two, we are going to repeal Biden’s disastrous economic policies, his Green New Deal. And we are going to have things that are going to help jump-start this economy.”
DeSantis noted that reforms enabling manufacturers to deduct the full cost of certain investments from their taxes, generally referred to as full expensing, would be part of his economic passage.
Senate rules dictate what can be part of a reconciliation package. For example, in late 2021, the Parliamentarian nixed Democrats’ attempt at including immigration reform in Biden’s Build Back Better bill, which ultimately failed to pass.
Polls show DeSantis is Trump’s closest competitor for the Republican nomination. The RealClearPolitics average shows Trump at 55.6% with DeSantis more than 30 points behind at 22.6%.