Supreme Court

45. His judicial nominees are scary.

Among the terrifying incidents most thinking Americans desperately hoped wouldn’t occur this year were a new war, a nuclear strike, a seriously rigged election, and a vacancy on the Supreme Court. We’ve escaped the first two thus far, and the third, while looking more likely every day, has yet to happen. Alas, the fourth came to pass yesterday with the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ginsburg was far and away the most impressive Supreme Court justice of the past quarter century, and she certainly was one of the most admirable persons ever to serve on the court. Her commitment to justice for women and minorities will remain an inspiration to Americans for generations to come. She was invariably tireless and fearless, frequently brilliant, and always fair-minded. Even as the court lurched to the right, as it did more than once during her years there, she believed it a worthy institution capable of doing great good in the world. While her memory lives on, her voice is now silenced and the political jockeying to replace has begun.

DT has made two Supreme Court picks to date. His nomination of the first, Neil Gorsuch, was mired in controversy following Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal let the Senate vote on President Obama’s pick to replace Antonin Scalia; the seat remained vacant for almost a year. His second nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, was confirmed by a razor-thin margin after allegations emerged about an attempted rape during his ultra-privileged youth. It is too early to know whether either Gorsuch or Kavanaugh will prove quite as narrow-minded and reactionary as Republicans hope, but most early indications suggest they will. Currently, the court has a 5–4 conservative majority, with Chief Justice John Roberts exercising independent thought on rare occasions. If DT gets to make a third nomination, the numbers will shift to 6–3, and Roberts won’t be able to save the day even when he wants to. We can be pretty sure of this because DT recently released a list of people he’s willing to nominate. It is not a reassuring list.

Reproductive rights, immigrants’ rights, minority rights, and a slew of issues concerning civil rights, criminal justice, free elections, and the environment are at stake. The sky won’t immediately fall if DT gets to appoint another justice, but it will require a vast amount of propping up. Realistically, it may require expanding the Supreme Court to 11 seats—a maneuver that most mainstream Democrats, such as Joe Biden, are likely to be reluctant to pursue. Make no mistake: the Republican Party is desperate to remain relevant, and they will use any means available to them to cling to power, even if it means supporting a heartless narcissistic racist like DT. Because he will give them the Supreme Court they need.

It is not a certainty that McConnell (R-State of Utter Hypocrisy) will be able to push the new nominee through the confirmation process before Inauguration Day in January, but it seems certain that he will try. If DT wins reelection, it’s a moot point because there’s no way the Senate Democrats will allow a vacancy on the court for the next four years, so even if they gain the majority in the Senate, they’ll approve one of his nominees for sure. If he loses the White House, however, then it may well be that the Democrats (with some help from three or four Republicans) will find a way to block the nomination. So for that reason alone, it’s imperative that he lose.

RBG’s last wish

Close to death, Justice Ginsburg communicated to her family that her foremost hope was that her replacement would be picked by the next president. In other words, even as sick as she was, she still cared deeply about the fate of the nation, and her mental faculties were sufficiently acute to recognize that the United States is facing a terrible threat from DT’s judicial nominees. Let’s not merely hope her last wish comes true—let’s work to make it so. Contact your senator and tell them not to let DT pack the Supreme Court with more ideologues. Capitol switchboard (202) 224-3121; links to senators’ websites.

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