The Jury Is Not Still Out

Republicans will get another Supreme Court Justice done, because they can

U.S. Supreme Court

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to hold hearings on a President Obama Supreme Court nominee 10 months before the 2016 election, not because of any BS excuse he came up with about the:

American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

He delayed because he could. Republicans controlled the Senate; Obama needed their consent.

Republicans still control the Senate, and there’s a Republican president now. So nothing standing in their way. So McConnell will do it now not because of some BS excuse he’s come up with about “promise keeping”. But because he can. And he’s in fact already saying he will slam a Supreme Court nominee through before the end of President Trump’s term.

Same goes for Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who 4 years ago said:

“It has been 80 years since a Supreme Court vacancy was nominated an confirmed in an election year. There is a long tradition that you don’t do this in an election year….We ought to make the 2016 election a referendum on the Supreme Court.”

But just last night said:

I think it is critical that the Senate takes up and confirms that successor before Election Day. There’s going to be enormous pressure from the media, there’s going to be enormous pressure from Democrats to delay filling this vacancy. But this nomination is why Donald Trump was elected.”

Oh, and Cruz recently found himself on the short list of Trump’s potential Supreme Court Justices.

Not quite sure yet whether we’ll see a similar sea change from South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who 4 years ago was even stronger, saying (and there’s video of him saying it):

I want you to use my words against me: If there’s a Republican President in 2016, and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the 1st term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next President, whoever it might be, make that nomination. And you could use my words against me. And you’d be absolutely right. We’re setting a precedent here today–Republicans are–that in the last year, at least of a lame duck 8 year term, I would say it’s gonna be a 4 year term, that you’re not gonna fill a vacancy of the Supreme Court, based on what we’re doing here today. That’s going to be the ‘new rule’“.

Sure there’ll be a lot of political strategizing on when it might be best to move to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday.

The late Justice Ginsburg, front row, second from right, in the most recent official Supreme Court photo

Whether it’s better to do everything real quick: “Operation Warp Speed 2.0”, or name a candidate now and do confirmation after Election Day, or wait until after to do both, since even if he loses Trump’ll be President until late January, and the naked hypocrisy might not be quite so obvious. Especially since a lot of Republican Senators have elections to win too. And if you get excited about that kind of stuff, have at it. Or you might even be thinking about Joe Biden possibly winning and Democrats winning the Senate too, and then adding more justices to the Supreme Court. Which could theoretically happen, but also might not be that likely.

But since right now, all it takes to appoint a Supreme Court Justice for a lifetime, is the President to name them and the Senate (and only the Senate) to approve them by a simple majority, then that’s what Republicans are going to make happen. Pretty simple, really.

The only reason all the intrigue and political calculation will be worth following will be to so we can determine when we’ll need to be available to protest.

Could this guaranteed show of bad faith among Republicans help Joe Biden get elected? Sure it could. Trump always brings up naming another Conservative Supreme Court Justice or two as a reason to re-elect him. Now re-electing him is not necessary to achieve that.

Could it help Trump get re-elected? Possibly. If Democrats start thinking all is lost.

But Republicans will be achieving something far bigger than re-electing Trump. And while it’ll probably still help them to have Trump around, they really don’t even need him to achieve it.

And that’s hanging on to power in this country for far longer than they ever dreamed possible. Because, and let’s just say it: Trump’s presidency is all about keeping white men, mostly older white men in charge in the U.S. And it’s the reason the Republican Party has continued to support him even though he’s a lunatic who hires only other lunatics or lemmings. If you’ve followed the campaign, this drumbeat has grown even stronger in the Trump camp as it’s gone on. That there is no systemic racism in this country, that it’s White people (and sometimes Asian Americans) who are the real victims these days of rewriting history and “cancel culture” more in general, and that Black people don’t really want justice, they just want to use people like George Floyd as “props” to sneakily trigger their agenda of radical social change. We are not exaggerating. That’s what Trump’s own Attorney General, Bill Barr just said this week. And based on other of his public proclamations, seems to see that not only as a noble cause, but as a religious crusade.

Of course, Biden’s an older White man too, but he’s done a good job of making it clear that’s not exclusively the group he intends to represent.

Perhaps in the future, Republicans could spin away from Trump and try to broaden their appeal. But why do that if they don’t have to?

They do not have majority support in this country anyway. And the party as it is now represented by Trump, never will ever again. Simply because the country is inevitably becoming more diverse. Even with Trump’s efforts to slow immigration down, both legal and illegal.

However, Republicans have now suddenly been handed a rare chance to make sure the fact that the sun is setting on them won’t really matter for a long, long time. And they don’t really have to do very much to make that a reality. Except make huge swaths of the American public really, really angry with them. But those are people who are probably really, really angry with them anyway.

We’ve seen Trump and his cohorts clawing at Democracy and the Constitution for almost the last 4 years in order to cling to their diminishing power in American civic society. Now they’ve got a chance to use “advice and consent” as laid out by the Constitution, to reanimate themselves, at least for long enough to countermand majority positions on such things as women’s rights, right to healthcare, voting rights, and we could go on and on. As well as putting up huge roadblocks to remedying inequities in American society that will be very hard to move for years and years to come.

Because as politicians get voted in and out, Supreme Court Justices don’t.

So yes, the Supreme Court, now that it’ll be so stacked, will probably set the country back a couple of decades on social issues especially, painfully delay or hamper meaningful change in the future, and perhaps also in the future have a hand in tearing down some of the nation’s limited safety net, which is as much economic as it is social.

But let’s try to end on something positive: none of this means who sits in Congress and the Presidency will be meaningless. And laws can still be passed that will contribute to the public good and won’t be overturned. It’ll be harder, but changes that benefit the majority–that are actually for the public good–are still inevitable. The only real question is: “When”? And “when” might be a long time now. But it won’t be forever.

It’s a little hard even for us to believe that those words we just wrote are true at this moment in history. But with some time and perspective, just maybe we will have some opportunity to foster real change yet. We’re trying really hard here…

Guess what we’re saying at least is the bad taste of Trump years for sure will linger, so let’s start by first getting rid of Trump and as many duplicitous Republican Senators as we can this November.