“Remember the Merrick!”
It sounds like it could be a rallying cry for the Spanish-American War and it might as well be, because it’s so quaint and naive.
Bless their hearts.
Democrats are justifiably angry that President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland — a man whom Sen. Orrin Hatch had repeatedly praised for his qualifications and intellect — never even got a confirmation hearing.
Especially in hindsight, Garland may not have been the ideal pick. Republicans would have had a harder time denying a woman or a minority a hearing.
And Democrats seemed overly comfortable that Hillary Clinton would win the White House — an assuredness that turned out to be another mistake.
It was, in part, conservative furor over the Supreme Court nominees that drove the GOP base to hold their nose and vote for Trump. According to CNN exit polls, 56 percent of Trump voters cited Supreme Court nominations as the single most important factor in their selection.
And, as I heard this one guy say once: “Elections have consequences.” Now we’re seeing those consequences, and we could see them for decades to come.
Democrats have pleaded to postpone Kavanaugh’s confirmation until after the election, appealing to fairness and rules.
Rules and decorum and collegiality may have mattered once upon a time. But talk of rules and fairness in today’s Senate has to make Mitch McConnell break out in that creepy grin of his, because McConnell’s only goal is: Win. The rules are just tools to help you get there.
When McConnell was in the minority, the shoe was on the other foot, but since taking over the majority, McConnell has shown a ruthless willingness to steamroll the opposition to an extent Democrats could never quite muster.
Democrats argued Garland should get a hearing because (notwithstanding what Hatch and others claimed) that was the tradition. They were ignored.
They made the mistake of forcing a filibuster vote on Neil Gorsuch’s nomination, because those were the rules. Republicans happily changed the rules and they lost the best defensive weapon they had forever.
Now some, like Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, have made the feeble argument there shouldn’t be a vote on Kavanaugh until after the election out of fairness, since that was the treatment that Garland got. As if fairness mattered.
The Democrats are left playing seven-card stud poker with one card in their hand. Barring some unforeseen bombshell, Kavanaugh will be the next Supreme Court justice. The appointment will likely reshape the court for decades.
Yes, he will probably help cut the legs out from under Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion ruling, which is why conservatives were so willing to vote for Trump.
But he will also enable the erosion of hard-fought-for protections for the LGBTQ community, minorities, immigrants and workers; he will undermine health care and environmental laws and civil liberties; and he will help weaken access to the ballot box and expand corporate influence in our democracy.
Elections have consequences.
Going forward, Democrats have a choice. They can light a candle and pray for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s health (which frankly, they should all do, anyway, because duh!).
Or they can use the Supreme Court as a catalyst for the November Election.
There is a decent chance they can retake the House, but when it comes to any Supreme Court nominees until 2020, they have to re-take the Senate, and the challenge there is significant.
They need to hold onto toss-up seats in Florida, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota and West Virginia, plus try to win a Republican seat in Nevada and one in Arizona, which hasn’t elected a Democratic senator in 30 years.
To pull off that feat, Democrats need to get angry. Not just angry, enraged, and focus that furor on registering voters, donating money, supporting candidates and making the case to anyone who will listen: Donald Trump and Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh are why the 2018 election matters.
If they don’t make it happen, they should be prepared for Republicans to hold as many as seven seats on the bench by the time they get another chance in 2020. And those are consequences we can’t afford.