Wednesday, June 27, 2018 was a deciding moment in American history: on that date two 5-4 Supreme Court decisions were announced which stripped away additional American freedoms, and Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote, announced that he would be retiring from the Court at the end of July, 2018. In future years, this date could be recognized as the date which put a stake in the heart of American democracy.
The answer for progressives is not to give more money to the Democratic politicians who are using these events to ask for more right now, but to tell them to put their balls (or guts) where their mouths are.
The answer for progressives is not to give more money to the Democratic politicians who are using these events to ask for more right now, but to tell them to put their balls (or guts) where their mouths are. Insist that they do everything they can to stop Trumputin from getting another pro-life, arch-conservative Supreme Court justice on the Court who will provide the deciding vote to overturn Roe v Wade and make abortion illegal in the United States, unlike most other developed countries in the world.
I have always said that the anti-abortion people in this country are amazingly hypocritical, arguing against government control of their lives and then supporting the most intrusive government control into a woman's life possible by making it illegal for her to get an abortion, even if she choses not to give birth to a fetus that may have been put into her body against her will. And there is a religious element to their anti-choice position: they are imposing their fundamental, evangelical Protestant or Catholic religious beliefs on those Americans who do not believe as they do. Freedom of religion?
After Justice Kennedy retires, the Supreme Court will have four liberal Justices and four conservative Justices, a 4-4 split. In those situations, unless they can get a Justice or two to peel off and support the more liberal or conservative position, the Court is tied and cannot act in future decisions. In that case, the ruling of the federal appellate court below will be upheld.
Lets say that in the months ahead, President Trumputin decides to force Robert Mueller to be fired and to pardon everyone who has been or might be implicated in the Russian election interference in the 2016 presidential election, including himself. Who will be the ultimate decision maker as to whether or not this is legal and constitutional, when the Supreme Court is deadlocked? During the Nixon Watergate scandal, the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that he must turn over the tapes. Are the current Supreme Court justices so political and so far removed from being nonpartisan that they will rule split 4-4, putting party above country?
The Democrat Response
What can the Democrats do right now to prevent the Senate from confirming some anti-abortion, extreme right wing judge nominated by Trumputin to replace Justice Kennedy before the midterm election in November, 2016? They are in the minority by 23 seats in the House, with the strong possibility that the Democrats will flip the House beginning in January, 2019. However, it is the Senate that votes on Supreme Court nominations, and the GOP now has a slim 51-49 majority. In November, there are far more Democratic Senators up for reelection than Republicans, and there is only a slight chance that the Democrats will flip the Senate next year.
Facing this daunting challenge, the Democrats in the Senate must do everything necessary to stop the confirmation process in the coming months, including using the filibuster to slow or stop Senate proceedings for long periods of time, and even threatening to shut down the government rather than allowing a vote on the successor to Justice Kennedy. Let me put it this way: you Senators do this now, or don't count on our support in the future. This is crunch time.
Senator John McCain is seriously ill with brain cancer, and may never return to the Senate to vote. So until he dies and is replaced, it is 50-49. And there are two pro-abortion female Republican Senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who might vote against an anti-abortion Supreme Court nominee, defeating the nominee by a vote of 51-48 if every Democratic Senator also opposes. (A few Democrats up for reelection may have weak knees).
Here is another idea: Republican Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee are retiring at the end of 2018. Both Senators have had great differences with Trumputin and the Republican Party as it exists today. Senator Corker has even called it "a cult". They are done with politics. My idea is: get them to become independents and caucus with the Democrats for the rest of the year. Offer Senator Flake the chairmanship of an important Senate committee for the rest of the year, and give Senator Corker anything he wants to switch.
There is precedent here: in 2001, with the Senate split 50-50 between the parties, the Democrats convinced Republican Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont to become an independent and caucus with the Democrats, giving them control of the Senate. Or offer the same inducements to Senators Collins and Murkowski, who each have more than four years before they are up for reelection.
The Republicans have broken precedent in the past to accomplish what they want; it is time for you Democratic senators to show what you are made of. This is not an issue which can just affect Democrats (and all Americans) for the next year or so, it can destroy the country and ruin it until most of you are long dead, or perhaps forever. Show your cojones, NOW…