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  • Writer's pictureNathan Max

Court Fight Requires Ruthless Tactics

Photo credit: Tyrone Turner/DCist. Mourners gathered in front of the Supreme Court on Friday night after learning liberal icon and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died at the age of 87.

Senate Republicans have taken brazen hypocrisy to a whole new level.

It has been contemptuous. It has been unscrupulous. It has been shameless. And, as usual, they don’t care what we think of them, as long as they get what they want.

The same senators who refused to hold hearings for Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland for nearly a year in 2016 could hardly contain their glee at the news that liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died last week. Within a few hours, Mitch McConnell put out a statement announcing that there would be a vote on the Senate floor for a new justice before the next inauguration, less than four months from now.

In the days that have followed, most of Donald Trump’s other enablers have fallen in line, as expected, with a few exceptions. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has humiliated himself for Trump like no other, immediately reversed his promise from two years ago to wait for the election.

Republicans and Democrats aren’t playing by the same set of rules. In fact, Republicans aren’t playing by any set of rules at all. Four years ago, they fabricated a new standard out of thin air, claiming no Supreme Court opening should be filled during a presidential election year. Apparently, that rule only applies when a Democrat occupies the White House.

It’s win at all cost for them, ethics be damned. What’s good for the goose is not good for the gander.

Now, it’s time for Democrats to fight back, by any means necessary. Procedural delays can only go so far. They must play hardball.

Impeach Donald Trump. Again. There are a multitude of crimes for which he should be held accountable. Just pick one. Or a few. This would tie up the Senate, which would be required to hold another trial. Of course, he will be acquitted again, since Republicans have capitulated to Trump in every way imaginable, but it might be enough to run out the clock.

If all else fails, and Democrats win the White House and control of the Senate in November -- as they are currently favored to do -- they need to revive an old idea from the Franklin Delano Roosevelt administration: Court packing. Add four or six liberal Supreme Court Justices and turn a 6-3 minority into a 7-6 or 9-6 majority.

If this is the game Republicans want to play, then Democrats have to start playing it to win.


It has been more than four months since Democrats in the House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act to extend enhanced unemployment benefits for millions of Americans, and Senate Republicans have yet to make a serious effort to negotiate a deal. There is also the small matter of passing a spending bill to keep the government open.

But Senate Republicans don’t care about any of that, and they don’t care about any of us. For them, it’s time to drop everything and ram through the most conservative nominee they can find, so they can have an overwhelming majority in the Supreme Court that reflects their extreme politics and fails to represent the plurality of Americans.

Consider this. Democrats have won the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections. Yet, Republican presidents have appointed 10 of the last 14 Supreme Court Justices. That will be 11 of the last 15 if Trump and McConnell succeed. Americans are living under minority rule, and Republicans are trying to cement it by establishing a Supreme Court that can and will use flimsy legal justification to invalidate mainstream, popular progressive legislation.

Two Republicans, Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, have both said they don’t support proceeding with this nomination until after the election. Two more Republicans must join them to put a stop to it. Unfortunately, these are the same individuals, with the exception of Mitt Romney, who have debased themselves at the alter of Trump for the last two-to-four years. Don’t expect courage or an independent streak from them now.

That’s why Democrats need to fight fire with fire.

And it’s time to break out a flamethrower.


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