Last year, Supreme Court Justice Scalia died. President Obama, a president who won election twice, both with the Electoral College and twice with popular vote majorities, was then denied by the GOP Senate from seating Judge Merrick Garland as his replacement on SCOTUS.
Republicans said it was because the people ought to have a voice in who the next justice should be. Not the people who voted in 2008 and 2012, they meant, but those yet to vote in 2016. It was a novel concept that current vacancies should be filled by future presidents. The Senate’s majority party would not even hold a hearing and Justice Scalia’s seat has remained empty over eight months ― an unprecedented period of vacancy.
So, in 2016 we voted. Far more of us wanted the lady who’d pick a justice like the one President Obama picked. But because of one of our remaining antiquated political compromises to give disproportionate advantages to rural slave states, Donald Trump got elected president.
Now comes word that the leader of the Senate Dems, Chuck Schumer, is talking about doing unto Republicans and they have done unto Dems, by just not approving any nominee to SCOTUS that President Trump may choose.
Now, of course, being Dems, they will only make a little bit of noise about this. Then the GOP will make a huge fucking how DARE you!! noise about it and Schumer & Co. will retreat back into Democrats Cave.
But they shouldn’t. Forget about the rules and the precedent ― the other side has!
Part of why Democrats lose elections they shouldn’t (meaning: any election they lose) is because in the war that is politics, they keep fighting fair.
Democrats are like the British, lining up in orderly formation in bright red uniforms because that is the honorable way men fight wars, a tradition that has been passed down through the generations. Republicans are like the Minutemen, blending into the woods, guerilla-style, ambushing the easily-attacked Redcoats, eschewing rules and honor and tradition because they’re outgunned and outmanned.
A recent article I read made the case that our political center has moved so far to the right because the players on the right side will use every opportunity for leverage to get their way and the players on the left do not. If Republicans will shut down government to extort concessions, but the Democrats will not, then over time, there will be more rightward concessions than leftward concessions. If Dems won’t block GOP nominees, but Republicans will block Dem nominees, then the people in government become increasingly Republican.
So Democrats, start playing the game like Republicans!
There are only 52 Republican senators and there still remains a 60-vote majority to break a filibuster (the Senate killed the filibuster for lower nominations, but not the Supreme Court). Whoever Trump nominates, indicate that they will never get 8 Democratic votes, period.
The GOP will scream bloody murder about it. Let them. Any of the next justices to pass away or retire are likely to be the liberal older ones. That could leave two-to-four vacancies, but an increasingly conservative court, thus reducing the GOP’s urgency to fill the seats. Even if it remains 4-4, use the GOP’s talking points. The people deserve a say in the next justice and a minority president does not have that mandate.
The GOP, of course, will then do what they have to do to win ― they’ll kill the filibuster altogether. With 52 votes of confirmation, they’ll fill those Supreme Court seats and be set loose to wreak havoc upon the land with no opposition. Then don’t be surprised if the Democrats win a Senate majority in a future election, only to see the outgoing GOP Senate reinstate the filibuster before they depart.
But at least the Democrats will have finally stood firm on principle and taken the fight to the mat. And maybe that will harden some spines and inflate some balls on the Left. Then maybe they’ll stand strong for other Democratic principles and people will start to see them as fighters for the common man again. Then, in my dream of dreams, they find themselves in complete control of the White House, the Congress, and the Supreme Court, free from the burden of Republicans filibustering every damn move the Democratic president makes, like the last eight years.
Alas, I hold out no hope that Schumer & Co. will stand strong. They’ll make this noise. Trump will nominate someone odious. They’ll block him (it’ll be a him). Trump will nominate someone semi-odious. Democrats will cave and claim victory in halving the odiousness of the new justice.