How Does The Presidential Election Affect The Supreme Court and Betting Odds

In 2016, one Supreme Court seat opened after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death at the age of 79. While Justice Antonin Scalia affiliated himself with the conservative wing, he often leaned liberally on numerous key Supreme Court cases. During this same year, it was the end of President Barack Obama’s 2nd term and the up-coming 2016 Presidential Elections.

After a Republican Congress and Senate refused to allow then-President Obama to appoint a new Justice, the Supreme Court was left at 4-to-4 due to the fear of another liberal-leaning Justice tipping the scales toward the Democrats favor. The choice of a new Justice was determined to be left up to the next elected U.S. President. Thus, the position of nominating and appointing a Justice became a key campaign promise from each Presidential Candidate, at the time Donald Trump ran for the Republican party and Hillary Clinton ran for the Democratic party.

Why Are Supreme Court Justices Important For Presidential Election Campaigns?

A Supreme Court Justice holds their position for life or until they choose to retire from their seat. Typically, when a Supreme Court Justice dies or retires, the sitting President is permitted to nominate an individual who is then reviewed for their qualifications by the Senate and afterward voted upon whether the nominee is confirmed to a Justice position.

In many cases, the appointment of a Federal Supreme Court Justice is arguably the most lasting legacy of any President due to their long terms well past anyone President holding office.

Then-Candidate Donald Trump promised conservative voters if he became President he would appoint a Republican Justice to retain a conservative power hold in the Supreme Court. Trump continued by stating he would appoint a Justice who would block tight gun ownership restrictions and regulations, as well as, remove federal abortion rights made possible by the Supreme Court interpretation of the Roe v. Wade case.

Then Candidate for the opposing party Hillary Clinton also made various campaign promises involving the nomination of a new Justice which would reverse a past Supreme Court decision to allow corporations to spend unlimited money on elections as a form of political free speech, as well as, fiercely preserve the federal right to safe and controlled abortions.

The Supreme Court is the highest court of the United States, whose policies impact the lives of all those living in the nation. Lifetime Justice appointments can affect the ideological makeup of the Court if enough Justices lean one way or another. Therefore, the new Supreme Court Justice decision became one of the most important campaign points of the 2016 Presidential Election.

While the Supreme Court makeup has always reared itself as an election issue, the death of Justice Scalia in 2016 forced the consideration of filling the seat to be forefront. The issue in 2016 provided opportunities to fill the 9th judge seat, however, an aging Supreme Court also meant the potential President would have more than one opportunity to nominate a party loyal Justice.

Because Justice nominees tend to be more ideologically loyal to the President who supported them, the President is capable of having a lasting impact on the nation through the Supreme Court.

Significant Supreme Court Seat Occupancies During The Trump Administration

After Justice Scalia’s death in 2016 eight Justices survived him, four had liberal affiliations and four had conservative affiliations. The makeup of the Supreme Court is a delicate balance which can impact their perspective on critical issues which Justices must make regarding the environment, marriage equality, immigration policies, reproductive rights, money in politics, elections, and voting rights to name a few.

After the 2016 Presidential Election, Donald Trump became President and nominated Neil Gorsuch to replace Scalia, the Senate approved of the Justice nominee on April 7th, 2017 and appointed Gorsuch to fill the 9th Justice seat. On June 27th, 2018 Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his plan to retire from the Supreme Court.

Justice Kennedy stated his retirement would begin July 31st, giving President Trump another opportunity to nominate another Justice. Supreme Court Justice Kennedy acted as a key swing vote in nearly all SCOTUS cases.

President Trump drew his next nomination from a list of 25 potential nominees which were assembled with the assistance of conservative special interest groups. Trump’s first Justice nominee runner-up to Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh was selected to be the President’s second seat nominee. Kavanaugh a federal courts appeal judge in D.C. and former clerk to Justice Kennedy was granted his position by the Senate.

How Supreme Court Decisions Affect Political Betting Odds

U.S. Supreme Court Justice positions are typically high-profile decisions. To complement massive media coverage of the event, oddsmakers for sportsbooks and legal political betting sites create betting odds regarding Justice nominees, nominee confirmations, and Justice retirement. Betting platforms also tend to offer wagering options on high-profile SCOTUS case decisions.

During Trump second seat consideration, Bovada opened political wagering propositions for nomination picks. Sportsbooks tend to arrange these odds based on bettor favorability, not possible likeliness. At one point, Kavanaugh’s odds to be selected by Trump stood at +175, Thomas Hardiman’s odds were at +350, and Amy Coney-Barret’s odds were at +450.

However, betting markets and odds are affected by numerous factors such as bettors consideration of Kavanaugh’s age and willingness or capability to serve for a long period.

More than likely, Kavanaugh’s odds were well favored due to being Gorsuch’s runner-up pick in 2017. All of Trump’s potential nominees leaned Republican providing an edge for the party in the Supreme Court.

However, Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination confirmation received delays after alleged sexual misconduct allegations arose. Nonetheless, Kavanaugh received his confirmation after a limited scope FBI investigation into the matter failed to produce any results.

The allegations did, however, affect the political betting market and Kavanaugh’s odds. Sportsbooks quickly jumped on the option to wager on odds for Kavanaugh’s nomination withdrawal which were once at +300 and jumped to +130 after the allegations went public. However, bettors wagering on this option lost once Kavanaugh was confirmed.

Various cases now await Trump’s new Supreme Court Justices such as gun ownership rights, abortion rights, transgender rights, religious liberty, corporate campaign financing, the death penalty, and stop and frisk issues. Decisions made on these potential cases could easily align with Republican and Presidential ideals, creating long-lasting effects from Trump-loyal Justices.

However, Justices retain the right to read cases narrowly or broadly which results in less outright overturning of laws and more interpretational flexibility. Oddsmakers for sportsbooks will be watching every step of the way as these cases are presented to the new SCOTUS makeup.