Monday, September 3, 2018

Democrats Apologize While Republicans Destroy Democracy

Senate Republicans are rushing ahead to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to be the next Supreme Court Justice without allowing Democrats -- or the American people -- to know the content of hundreds of thousands of documents from Kavanaugh's time as White House staff secretary in the Bush Administration.  These documents could shed light on any number of critical issues, including the extent of his involvement in crafting the Bush-Cheney policy on torture and whether he lied to Congress during his earlier confirmation hearing for appellate judge about how involved he really was.  The Republicans stole one Supreme Court seat by refusing to hold any hearing for President Obama's nominee Merrick Garland, and are about to snag another by refusing to hold a meaningful one.

What is almost equally outrageous is that Democrats are going to participate as if Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings will be anything but a charade.  They will earnestly ask their questions, make deeply felt pronouncements, and vote "no" while the Republicans secure another far right wing justice after again making a mockery of Congress' advise and consent role.  Just as when Garland was hung out to dry and Neil Gorsuch was subsequently nominated by Trump, Senate Democrats seem incapable of thinking creatively or acting aggressively to stop or at least resist the radical takeover of the judiciary.

In the run up to the hearings, when Democrats should have been using every procedural and rhetorical tool at their disposal to challenge the Republicans and throw sand in the gears of Senate business (e.g., withholding unanimous consent, quorum calls), they negotiated a deal to fast track judicial nominees so that they could get back on the campaign trail.  And they appeared on the Sunday TV news shows to apologize for doing away with the filibuster for lower court nominees when they were in the majority as if that would have deterred Republicans from doing away with the filibuster for the Supreme Court which now gives them the ability to confirm with a bare majority.

Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar actually expressed regret for her vote to end the filibuster.  Not that Democrats reluctantly voted to eliminate the filibuster only after the Republican's unprecedented obstruction culminated in stopping Obama's three nominations to the D.C. Circuit based on the specious argument that Obama was engaged in "court packing" when he was merely seeking to fill existing vacancies.  (See Using The Filibuster As A Weapon Of Mass Destruction)  Not that Republicans abused the "blue slip" tradition that allowed a home-state Senator to thwart Obama nominees by withholding consent, and then eliminated the blue slip tradition when they came into the majority.   (See Senator Leahy Can Go Fuck Himself) Not Merrick Fucking Garland.

A New York Times editorial cogently explained how Kavanaugh's fifth vote on the Court would transform the country's legal landscape:
That means, for starters, making it harder for minorities to vote, for workers to bargain for better wages and conditions, for consumers to stand up to big business and for women to control what happens to their bodies. It also means making it easier for people to buy and sell weapons of mass killing, for lawmakers to green-light discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender Americans, for industries to pollute the environment with impunity, and for the wealthy to purchase even more political influence than they already have.
And then there's the fact that a president has nominated a justice for the Supreme Court while under investigation -- while there is a cancer on the presidency -- and one who, as the Times points out "will be in a position to rule on any case involving Mr. Trump or his associates, a disturbing scenario even before you consider his alarmingly permissive views on presidential power and authority."

The weekend before Republicans are going to push through such a Supreme Court nominee without allowing him to be questioned on his record, the message from Democrats is that this is at least partially their own fault for not being nicer when they were in power.

Admittedly, Democrats don't have a whole lot of options at this point but for fuck's sake, they should not be conceding the "both sides do it" bullshit that Republicans have been using as a justification for shredding long-standing rules and traditional norms in order to take over the judicial branch since Robert Bork.

This is not the time for civility.  It is a time for resistance.  And Senate Democrats need to demonstrate that they are up for the fight.


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