Few events shaped 2016 like the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The news remade the political landscape in February and was the deciding factor for millions casting ballots in November.

My hope is that the president succeeds in putting serious constitutionalists on the Supreme Court. My expectation is that this will depend on conservatives’ ability to thoughtfully defend the Constitution’s system of three coequal branches.

Washington wrongly thinks of the justices as wearing red and blue jerseys. I believe that Mr. Trump will nominate a qualified, conservative jurist for the court. I also expect liberals and many in the press to reflexively label his nominee a partisan. That’s dangerous.

The Constitution doesn’t talk about Republican or Democratic judges. It establishes an independent judiciary precisely to safeguard our rights by limiting and dividing federal powers. The Supreme Court’s job isn’t to drive political agendas but to defend America’s great experiment in self-government.

Viewing the Supreme Court through a partisan lens undermines the nature of the institution. Seeing 5-4 splits not as thoughtful constitutional debates, but as Republicans vs. Democrats, invites a cynical, winner-take-all approach: “Did the justices rewrite the laws? No big deal, as long as my team put points on the board.” That’s the same thinking that let congressional Democrats excuse President Obama’s “pen and phone” theories of executive overreach.

Mr. Trump, his nominee and congressional Republicans can’t baptize that partisan approach. Instead, we need to use the debate as a platform for serious civics education—to celebrate our system of checks and balances, because that framework is the best defense of freedom.

We need to explain that the Founding Fathers gave the president, Congress, and the courts unique roles with the same mission: defending the idea that government doesn’t give people rights. Rather, our rights come from God by nature, and government is our shared project to secure those rights for ourselves and the next generation.

Read the full article online at the Wall Street Journal.