An Originalist against Trump Has No Regrets

A couple weeks back, Mark Pulliam wagered that some of the Originalists Against Trump regretted signing the statement after they realized Donald Trump had won the presidential election. This didn’t sound right to me, but maybe that’s because I was one of the original Originalists Against Trump and I have no regrets. But Josh Blackman has recently reported, with support from Jonathan Adler, that “several signatories have had their regrets.”

This surprises me, though it probably shouldn’t. The apparent source of personal regret is the reduced likelihood of receiving an appointment—presumably judicial—from the President. “If only I hadn’t signed that statement, I could’ve been a federal judge!”

If this is what these people are thinking now, they shouldn’t have signed the statement then. When you say something like “I don’t trust President Trump to nominate qualified judicial candidates,” you shouldn’t later be surprised if President Trump doesn’t see fit to nominate you. And that’s pretty much what we said:

We … understand the argument that Trump will nominate qualified judicial candidates who will themselves be committed to the Constitution and the rule of law. Notwithstanding those he has already named, we do not trust him to do so.

We also said that there were more important matters than judicial nominations, such as respect for constitutional limits in the rest of the President’s conduct in office. And there remain reasonable grounds for concern at present.

I’ll cheerfully concede post-election that my earlier statement of “no regrets” should be qualified with “at least not yet.” I, for one, would be happy to be proven wrong about my prospective concern for the Constitution under President Trump. But if my judgment about that was incorrect, then my own poor predictive judgment will be what I regret.

That regret, though—should it turn out to be well-grounded—remains for ripening the future. It is not something I experience now