The rave reviews from the right began coming in within minutes of President Trump’s announcement that he was nominating Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Senator Ted Cruz called the pick a “home run.” Senator Lindsey Graham joked giddily that he was “mucho happy.” Senator Ben Sasse tweeted, “Let’s confirm him tonight.”
And though it may have been a bit ungodly, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee—a one-time Baptist minister who caught flack during the campaign from some fellow conservatives for supporting Trump—couldn’t resist gloating. “Will the ‘Never Trumper’ skeptics now acknowledge that @POTUS is doing exactly what he promised?” Huckabee wrote on Twitter. “Gorsuch: another promise made, promise kept.”
The general elation, and relief, among conservative Christians was understandable. For many of them, supporting Trump in 2016 had constituted a deal with the devil—and on Tuesday night it paid off.
According to Election Day exit polls, one in five voters identified the Supreme Court as “the most important factor” in determining who they would pull the lever for. Many of those people were white evangelicals who had winced at Trump’s rhetoric, cringed at his Biblical illiteracy, sighed at his less-than-holy personal life—and then voted for him anyway, believing that the next president’s most important responsibility was to replace Antonin Scalia with a conservative justice who would protect their religious freedom and fight abortion from the bench.