On the eve of declaring his candidacy for president, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida began explaining why Republicans should nominate him over former President Donald J. Trump, saying he could “fortify” the conservative majority in the Supreme Court during a possible eight years in office.
“You would have a 7-2 conservative majority on the Supreme Court that would last for a quarter of a century,” DeSantis said Monday during a speech at the National Convention of Religious Broadcasters in Orlando. “So it’s something big, very important that it’s done well.”
His comments seemed to signal a new avenue of attack on Mr. Trump, who could only serve four more years in the White House. Conservatives praised Mr. Trump for establishing a strong 6-3 majority on the court, which overturned Roe v. Wade last year, a decades-long ambition of Republicans.
Mr DeSantis, who is expected to declare his candidacy this week, suggested he would appoint equally conservative judges – but would have the option to do so longer than Mr Trump.
“I think if you look over, you know, the next two presidential terms, there’s a good chance you’ll be called upon to look for replacements for Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito,” Mr. DeSantis, referring to two of the most staunchly conservative members of the court. “And the problem with that is you can’t really do better than those two. They’re the gold standard of precedent.
The governor also appeared to criticize Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2005 but sometimes voted with the liberal wing of the court. Mr DeSantis warned that replacing a judge like Judge Thomas with a jurist in the mold of Chief Justice Roberts “would actually see the court move to the left”. He also indicated that the next president may have the opportunity to replace Judge Sonia Sotomayor, a liberal who has served on the court since 2009.
In Florida, DeSantis reshaped the state Supreme Court with conservative justices, removing a potential roadblock to implementing his agenda.
While Mr. DeSantis hasn’t spoken much about his faith during a national tour ahead of his presidential run, he told the Christian conservative audience in Orlando that he brought water from the Sea of Galilee in Israel to baptize her children. He also praised the nation of Israel, calling it “the cradle of our Judeo-Christian civilization”.
“These are the values that underpin our Constitution and our republic here in America,” Mr. DeSantis added.