There are times when you just have to say… Well, I don’t know what I can come up with cogently, so here again is Charlie Pierce with thoughts on the retirement of Anthony Kennedy and the handing over of the reins to the far-right nutsery for the next thirty years.
There is not much that the Democrats can do about this now. The Republican majority in the Senate killed the filibuster in order to install Neil Gorsuch in the seat they hijacked from Merrick Garland. So any complaining about how Chuck Schumer didn’t hip-check Mitch McConnell into the aisle should be pre-emptively dismissed now. This result was inevitable from the moment that Antonin Scalia’s heart stopped. This is the beginning of the end of the long game that began with the Powell memo in 1972. All that’s left for them now is to solidify the gains they have made, an option that no longer may be available to minority voters, and gay citizens, and everybody else who thought their enhanced ability to participate in American self-government was permanent.
They have everything in place to do that very thing. Some of it was serendipity; they didn’t plan on two Republican presidents in 18 years both installed without winning the popular vote. But the rest of it was a grand strategy against everything they have despised about American politics since the end of World War II. They have pushed every built-in chokepoint present in our political institutions in order to put in place political choke-points guaranteed to operate to their advantage, and they’ve done everything to reinforce these dark creations until they look as permanent as the composition of the U.S. Senate or the Electoral College. When the Senate confirms the nomination of Louie Gohmert later this summer, it will mean that four of the nine justices of the Supreme Court will have been nominated by presidents who lost the popular vote. I’m beginning to doubt the wisdom of the Founders.
Anyway, everything’s up for grabs now, if Justice Samuel Alito’s casual detonation of 40 years of precedent in Wednesday’s majority opinion in Janus is any indication. Roe, and then Griswold, are in range. The very idea of a national healthcare system is running scared. Reform of our cash-drunk campaign finance system now looks as distant as the mountains of the moon. Obergefell carries a bullseye—the next court is odds-on to find religious liberty exceptions to every law, including gravity and certain parking regulations—and so do Miranda and, what the hell, Brown v. Board.
Why not? What’s out there to stop them now? Just this week, they’ve written religious bigotry and legislative ratfcking into the Constitution and converted the United States into a right-to-work country. Millions of people are going to have their lives made harder by the events of the past week. In that context, musings on political strategery seem viciously beside the point.
The only way to stop this is to stall the hearings on the nomination until after the mid-terms in November and work like hell until then to take back the Senate. Both are breathtakingly monumental tasks given the odds against the Democrats and their maddening ability to try to get along.
And don’t think that waiting for Robert Mueller and his report, no matter how damaging it is to Trump and the Republicans, to save us. Even if Trump is somehow miraculously forced out of office or is incapacitated, waiting in the wings is Mike Pence, who will appoint Judge Roy Moore to the court.
So, yeah; there doesn’t seem to be a lot to be gained by wondering what Chuck Schumer will do. It’s up to us now.