In March, as part of myself and Jill’s project to help get out the vote in 2020, I warned about impending doom as it pertains to the courts in America. I highly recommend you read that particular post because it lays out all of the issues we’ll be facing in the coming months. Decisions await in many areas of concern, including the viability of the Affordable Care Act, Roe V Wade, and climate change.
Unfortunately, now we must deal with something I was hoping would not come to fruition. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Notorious RBG as she came to be known, passed away almost two weeks ago, after a long and gallant fight with pancreatic cancer.
Our worst nightmare is now upon us. The current president is again upending the norms and precedents exhibited by previous presidents by nominating Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, she will replace one of the most legendary and magnificent legal minds we’ve ever seen – not even five weeks before the American people are about to make their choice for president.
The hypocrisy from the Republican party knows no bounds. I’m not even going to go there.
As I warned in my March post, we’re now looking at a 6-3 majority for the conservatives. While I based my admonition on a possible Trump victory, there was always the chance RBG wouldn’t make it until a Democrat, now Joe Biden assumed the inauguration stage on January 20, 2021. Now, it’s not going to matter one way or the other. Amy Coney Barrett is going to be the next Supreme Court Justice. There’s not much the Democrats can do to stop it.
Yes, Democrats are pissed, and rightly so. Some call for Biden to “pack the courts,” were he to win, a reference to adding several justices to even out the Court’s ideological tilt to the far-right. While it’s constitutionally possible to do it, I wouldn’t hold my breath that Biden would do such a thing. But he has to win first to even think about such a drastic change. We shall see.
The fact that Mrs. Barrett, considered a far-right conservative with questionable views on women’s rights, health care, and other lightning rod issues, is replacing the liberal RBG makes it that much harder to swallow. But the current president wants his pick because he thinks she might help him when (not if) he challenges the results of the election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is more than happy to oblige him.
I’ve written before about the disastrous McConnell. He’s as much a danger to this country as the current president. And it makes the upcoming election even more crucial that we remove this man from his perch atop the power totem pole of the United States Senate. He’s most likely going to win a seventh term in his home state of Kentucky, and that’s depressing enough. But if we do what we have to do in November, we can render him virtually powerless going forward.
What are some of the future scenarios, and what must we do to stop the bleeding?
First, what we need to do is make sure Joe Biden is the next president of the United States. Looking at the Court’s current makeup of the three justices left on the liberal side, Stephen J. Breyer is 82 years-old. There’s a reasonably high probability that he’s not going to stick around very much longer. If Biden is elected and Breyer decides to retire, he can replace him with someone similar ideologically.
If the current president wins, can we realistically expect Breyer to last another four years on the Court? I’d certainly not count on it. To even keep the Court where it is right now – 6-3, Biden must prevail on November 3. Otherwise, we seriously might be looking at a 7-2 conservative majority. If that doesn’t motivate you to vote, nothing will.
So a Biden victory would not only help us keep the current makeup, at least ideologically, the same, we’d also have a chance, albeit a slim one, to replace a conservative justice in Biden’s first term. Justice Clarence Thomas is 72 years old, and Samuel Alito is 70 – certainly not aged, especially when it comes to long tenures by judges. Nevertheless, you never know what health issues may arise, or maybe even a desire to move on to private life. The latter is highly unlikely, but still possible.
In my unlikely scenario, we’d be able to move the Court back to a 5-4 conservative majority, with Justice John Roberts remaining the sometimes wild card on various decisions. I’m trying my best to be optimistic here, folks. It’s not easy!
Either way you look at it, the Democratic Party, especially in recent years, has never taken the courts as seriously as their Republican counterparts. And it’s not hard to see why. The Republican Party has drifted so far to the right, their message to the voters seems to be: “We aren’t changing, so we’ll use the power we have to stiff-arm the courts to our will. And the Democrats can go to hell. Our ideas suck, but we’ll force you to heel to our whims by controlling the courts for decades to come.”
I hate to put it those terms, but that’s what we’re facing. As I mentioned in my March post, it’s not just the Supreme Court; it’s the rest of the federal courts as well. The current president gets the approved judge list from The Federalist Society, nominates them, and hands it over to Mitch McConnell, who moves lightning fast to assure their confirmation in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Funny, it’s the only thing he moves fast on these days.
Again, most of these judges are far-right, young, and unqualified – failing even to receive the stamp of approval from the American Bar Association. The Republicans have carved quite the niche for themselves and their extremist base and corporate masters. The only thing we can do now is to stop the bleeding.
So beyond all of us making sure that Joe Biden becomes the next president of the United States, we also need to make sure that the Senate flips to Democratic control. There are many more vulnerable Republican seats than Democratic ones this year. Electing Biden and giving him a Democratically controlled Senate is equally essential.
The current president is likely in the process of losing this election and taking down the whole Republican Party with him if we are to believe recent polling. He’s fighting like hell to delegitimize this election, seemingly resigned to his fate – unless he sows doubt, tells baseless lies, and awaits his chance to challenge every vote he possibly can. Getting his third justice confirmed to the Court gives him a fighting chance, in his view.
My friends, the trifecta is within our reach – keep the House, win the White House, and flip the Senate. Let’s resign ourselves to the fact that he’ll get his latest pick through. But on November 3, we can stop McConnell’s power grab, we can help limit the damage to all of our federal courts, and we can set the stage for getting things done for the American people.
What we’ve seen over the last four years is nothing short of a radical right-wing coup, brought about by a pathologically lying criminal president who has no regard for the law or any precedent our democracy depends upon for survival.
The current president has reshaped the courts so that the evangelical community gives him a pass for all of his despicable and appalling behavior. It’s one of the most disgraceful alliances in political history.
But there’s more of us than there is of them. It’s a fact the current president knows all too well. It’s why he’s trying to steal the election, folks. He can’t win based on his pathetic record. But he thinks he can by utilizing his advantage at the Supreme Court.
I hope that Democrats will never take the makeup of the courts for granted again in the future. We’re paying dearly for this mistake as we speak. While we napped, the Republicans were wide awake, plotting and scheming their way to judicial dominance.
But for now, November 3, 2020, looms, lurking like a gigantic anvil hovering over democracy’s survival. Are we going to keep it hanging, or will we let it come crashing down, rendering America powerless to the wannabe dictator?
I can’t imagine the American people wanting another four years of this man. But I was surprised in 2016. Let’s don’t make the same mistake twice. We’ve got a chance to make a statement – a substantial one at that.
There’s only one solution to this madness: Landslide. Let’s do this!