We've heard this before: "Elections have consequences."

In fact, it was Barack Obama who most often trumpeted the adage before doing something he perceived as controversial. The consequences of elections are often most vividly seen in the impact on the judiciary, the third branch of our tripartite system of government.

If you doubt that, look no further than what an election for the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania recently did. With their victories came a Democratic majority on the state's highest court and an opportunity to completely re-write the state's congressional districts.

The stakes are much higher with the Supreme Court of the United States. Carrying a lifetime appointment and the opportunity to shape the law of the nation for generations, every seat on the court carries enormous gravity.

It's not the least bit surprising that the relatively sudden retirement announcement by Justice Anthony Kennedy set in motion a firestorm over the nomination to fill his seat.

The Left quickly ratcheted up the rhetoric, claiming that President Trump will try to "pack the court" with another conservative in the mold of Neil Gorsuch, appoint a younger person who can impact the nation's judiciary for a long time, and by so doing leverage the appointment far beyond the usual power of an individual seat.

Of course, they're right, overheated rhetoric notwithstanding. They shouldn't be surprised. It's exactly what candidate Donald Trump said he'd do.

The future of the Supreme Court and its pervasive influence over virtually every aspect of American life was a major issue in the 2016 campaign. Many voters cast their ballots for Donald Trump based exclusively or largely on that single issue.

Trump promised to appoint jurists who wouldn't try to legislate from the bench but instead would interpret the Constitution as it was written, and as the Founders intended.

They cringed at the possibility of Hillary Clinton packing the court with leftist "activists" which was the other potential consequence of the election.

Trump was able to get the earliest confirmation of a Supreme Court justice when he picked Neil Gorsuch. Gorsuch is young (50), brilliant and possesses both the judicial temperament and personality to be a significant influence on the court for more than a generation.

The same holds true for the next nominee.

Right after Justice Kennedy's announcement, the White House released a list of a couple dozen potential nominees. That list has now narrowed considerably, and the president is set to announce his selection on Monday night.

The Trump short list brings some uncommon characteristics. For all the talk of diversity these days, the Supreme Court justices are all Catholics or Jews. (Yes, there's some question about Gorsuch who now apparently is an Anglican, but he was baptized and confirmed a Catholic). None of the justices went to law schools other than Harvard or Yale.

Trump's short list is comprised of younger jurists with outstanding records.

Judge Raymond Kethledge has emerged as one of the conservatives' top picks. He's a University of Michigan and Michigan Law School graduate who has developed a stellar record in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh is, at 53, the oldest of the bunch and has been on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for the past dozen years.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who graduated from Notre Dame Law School and once clerked for Justice Scalia currently sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

She's only 46.

I'd lose my credentials as a good Pennsylvanian if I didn't mention Judge Thomas Hardiman. He's a Georgetown law grad who put himself through law school by driving a cab.

A Pittsburgher, he currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. He became a federal judge while still in his thirties and has such a distinguished career that the president's sister, who served with him on the 3rd Circuit, has been described as "high on Hardiman."

Any of the potential appointments is going to make the Left cringe (to put it mildly) and the Right applaud. That's as it should be. The president should do as he promised. There's little doubt that he will.

Monday's announcement will begin a pitched battle over confirmation. Millions of dollars will be spent trying to convince a handful of senators.

What will be forgotten is years of a different type of confirmation process. When Byron "Whizzer" White was nominated by President Kennedy, it took only four days to get confirmed. His confirmation hearing lasted about 90 minutes, and thereafter he was confirmed by acclamation.

That's how Lyndon Johnson got Arthur Goldberg onto the court. Even Abe Fortas, who had all sorts of issues surrounding him, got a voice vote for confirmation.

And so it went for decades, with a couple of notable exceptions, until Reagan's nomination of Robert Bork. But Reagan was also able to get unanimous confirmations for Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony Kennedy, and even Antonin Scalia. When Clinton nominated Ruth Baker Ginsburg, the court's leading liberal, there were only three votes against her confirmation.

We've got to ask ourselves if that isn't the way it's supposed to be. After all, elections do have consequences.

PennLive Opinion contributor Charlie Gerow is the CEO of Quantum Communications in Harrisburg. His "Donkeys & Elephants" column appears weekly opposite progressive commentator Kirstin Snow.

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