Will war cancel Trump's triumphs?
The one justice named to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, appears in the Antonin Scalia tradition. And under Chairman Chuck Grassley, the Senate judiciary committee is moving conservatives and strict constructionists onto U.S. appellate and district courts.
Politically, however, the year brought bad news, with portents of worse to come. In November, the Republican Party was thrashed in Virginia, losing all state offices, and then lost a Senate seat in Alabama.
Given polls showing Trump under water and the GOP running 10 points behind the Democratic Party in favorability, there is a possibility the GOP could lose the House in 2018.
And though Democrats have three times as many seats at risk in 2018, the GOP losing the Senate is not beyond the realm of possibility.
Should that happen, the conservative dream of a recapture of the U.S. Supreme Court could swiftly vanish.
Recall: Democratic Senates turned down two Nixon nominees and Reagan's nomination of Robert Bork, forcing both presidents to name justices who evolved into moderates and liberals on the high court.
But it is in the realm of foreign policy where the real perils seem to lie. President Trump has been persuaded by his national security team to send Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, for use against the tanks and armor of pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk.
Should Petro Poroshenko's Kiev regime reignite the war in his breakaway provinces bordering Russia, Vladimir Putin is less likely to let him crush the rebels than to intervene with superior forces and rout the Ukrainian army.
Trump's choice then? Accept defeat and humiliation for our "ally" -- or escalate and widen the conflict with Russia.
Putin's interest in the Donbass, a part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union for centuries, is obvious.