On the eve of declaring his candidacy for president, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has begun articulating a new rationale for why Republicans should nominate him over former President Donald J. Trump, saying he could “fortify” the Supreme Court’s conservative majority during a potential eight years in office.
“You would have a 7-2 conservative majority on the Supreme Court that would last a quarter-century,” Mr. DeSantis said on Monday during an address to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Orlando. “So this is big stuff, very important that that gets done right.”
His comments seemed to signal a new avenue of attack against Mr. Trump, who could serve for only another four years in the White House. Conservatives have praised Mr. Trump for establishing a strong 6-to-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 that he would appoint similarly conservative justices — but that he would have the opportunity to do so for longer than Mr. Trump.
“I think if you look over, you know, the next two presidential terms, there is a good chance that you could be called upon to seek replacements for Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Samuel Alito,” Mr. DeSantis said, referring to two of the court’s most staunchly conservative members. “And the issue with that is you can’t really do better than those two. They are the gold standard for jurisprudence.”
The governor also seemed to criticize Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2005 but has sometimes voted with the court’s liberal wing. Mr. DeSantis warned that replacing a justice like Justice Thomas with a jurist in the mold of Justice Roberts would “actually see the court move to the left.” He also indicated that the next president could have an opportunity to replace Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a liberal who has been on the court since 2009.
In Florida, Mr. DeSantis has reshaped the State Supreme Court with conservative justices, removing a potential roadblock to enacting his agenda.
While Mr. DeSantis has not talked much about his faith on a national tour ahead of his presidential run, he told the audience of Christian conservatives in Orlando about bringing home water from the Sea of Galilee in Israel to baptize his children. He also praised the nation of Israel, calling it “the cradle of our Judeo-Christian civilization.”
“Those are the values that undergird our Constitution and our republic here in America,” Mr. DeSantis added.
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