In every presidential election since 1992, complaints about subpar Republican candidates (George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain, Mitt Romney: The names speak for themselves) have been met with a common refrain: This is the most important election in our lifetime, because of the Supreme Court!  Hold your nose and vote for the Republican, no matter what reservations you might have.  Otherwise, a Democratic president will “determine the future of the Court for the next generation.”  The country would return, we were told, to the bad old days of the Warren Court (and just forget, please, until the first Tuesday in November has passed, who appointed Earl Warren as Chief Justice).

The hollowness of past appeals was always evident to those who have eyes to see, but even the most politically naive voter should, after 2016, never fall for the Supreme Court gambit again.  Because this year, for the first time in two-and-a-half decades, the argument actually does make sense, and yet the dire warnings have been missing.  Indeed, some of the loudest proponents over the past quarter-century of the idea that the defeat of the Republican presidential candidate would usher in a judicial apocalypse have abandoned the Republican Party this year—George Will, for instance—and some have even indicated that they will vote for Hillary Clinton in November.

This, despite the fact that, as the New York Times reports, the percentage of liberal opinions issued by the Supreme Court in the 2014-15 term—when Justice Antonin Scalia was still alive—was higher than at any point since the heyday of the Warren Court in the 1950’s and 60’s.  As the 2015-16 term wrapped up in late June, a series of opinions on such hot-button issues as affirmative action, the forced payment of union dues, and abortion all swung wildly to the left, and yet none of the Republican presidential nominees who had benefited from the scare tactics employed in previous elections suddenly rethought his decision not to endorse Donald Trump or to attend the Republican National Convention this year.

If ever there were a year in which the Supreme Court card were to be trumps, this would be it.  Can there be any doubt that, no matter how bad a President Trump’s choices might be, Hillary Clinton’s would be worse?

Yet if this scare tactic is relegated once and for all to an unmarked grave, that would be just as well.  As the New York Times also notes, the percentage of liberal opinions delivered by the Court has increased not because Democratic appointees have moved to the left but because, with the notable exception of Justice Clarence Thomas, all of the Republican nominees have done so (even, surprisingly, the late Justice Scalia, who hit his high point of conservative opinions in the year 2000 before beginning a steady downhill slide).  Justice Anthony Kennedy now sides more often with the liberals than with his fellow Republican appointees, and if Chief Justice John Roberts’s trend continues, he will do the same as early as next term.

The reality is this: Both Democratic and Republican appointees to the federal judiciary, up to and including the U.S. Supreme Court, have been in the vanguard of the legal revolution of the past 60 years.  The problem, as always, lies deeper than politics, and thus will not be solved by winning a presidential election and appointing a few justices.  Those who have disingenuously claimed that it could be thus solved have inadvertently revealed the truth this year by abandoning the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee.