Kelly Shackelford, president of the Religious Right legal group First Liberty (formerly Liberty Institute), was among the conservative religious leaders who met with Donald Trump in New York last month and, like many others, seems to have resigned himself to supporting Trump’s presidential candidacy on the assumption that Trump would hand over the process of picking Supreme Court justices to movement conservatives.
Shackelford said as much in an interview with Jerry Newcombe last week, explaining that while he wasn’t endorsing Trump, it’s “very conceivable” that, if elected, Trump would pick a more conservative Supreme Court than even Mitt Romney would have because he’s “going to sort of pass this off” to conservative groups like the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation.
Trump mentioned both groups in response to a question from Shackelford at the New York event, also promising that his judicial nominees would be “100 percent” against abortion rights.
“Look, I haven’t endorsed anybody for president, I’m not telling people who to vote for, but I do think people need to think through some of these things,” Shackelford told Newcombe. “I’m not saying this would happen, but it’s very conceivable that Donald Trump, who is certainly not considered a right-wing conservative, it’s very, very possible that a Donald Trump as president would appoint a more conservative Supreme Court than, for instance, Mitt Romney would ever think about. Because Mitt Romney would appoint people more moderate like himself, you know, moderate conservative. Donald Trump is going to sort of pass this off to like the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, which are very conservative.”
“So it’s one of those things where sometimes you can look at the candidate and go, ‘Well, he’s not as conservative as I am,’” he said, “but really what you’re asking is what are they going to do as president, what their positions are going to be. And it could be that if your issue is the courts, you know, Trump could be very different than you would normally assume because he’s delegating this away from himself and the results might be more appetizing to people who are very conservative.”