MEMBERS ONLY: The War Over Trump’s Unconscionable Supreme Court Pick

by Justin Rosario

As a flood of dark money swamps Washington in support of placing Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, the Democratic Party has a choice to make: Buckle under the pressure of tradition and lobbyists or fight tooth and nail to block Gorsuch while demanding Merrick Garland or a similarly centrist judge be nominated.

Here are the 4 most compelling reasons that Gorsuch must be rejected by the Democrats:

4. Neil Gorsuch is another right wing extremist in the vein of Antonin Scalia – Republicans are salivating at the prospect of putting another deeply pro-corporate, anti-labor ideologue on the Court. Al Franken exposed the “absurdity” of Gorsuch’s ideology as cruel and inhumane; lacking any moral component. 

Trump promised to nominate a Justice that would overturn Roe v. Wade and if Gorsuch is that Justice, then no Democrat can vote for him and still claim to be a Democrat. One of our foundational convictions is that women have agency over their bodies. Gorsuch’s ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby has already shown that he does not believe a woman’s right to contraception supersedes the religious misogyny of the rich. A vote for Gorsuch would be a betrayal of a core belief of the party.

The bottom line here is that Trump narrowly won the Electoral College by 75,000 votes while losing the popular vote by 3 million. That should be a very clear indication of what the voters want and it’s not a far right partisan. Remember, Republicans kept the seat open on the fraudulent premise that the American people should have a say (because electing Obama in 2012 didn’t count in their eyes). Well, they spoke. Now it’s time for Republicans to listen or for the Democrats to make them listen.

3. The Filibuster – Conventional wisdom is congealing that the Democrats must make a strategic decision to allow Gorsuch in lest the Republicans “go nuclear” and get rid of the filibuster. Such a drastic move, the theory goes, would leave Democrats unable to stop Republicans from nominating an even more extreme ideologue should another Justice retire or die.

There’s just one problem with this line of thought: There is literally no chance that Republicans won’t do it anyway. Right now, Justices Kennedy and Roberts have a habit of not being 100% hard-line conservative votes. Roberts voted against destroying Obamacare and Kennedy is generally known as the swing vote. If Republicans are allowed to seat Gorsuch and another seat opens, they will do anything to push the Court to the far right for a generation.

The three most likely vacancies will be those of Justices Ginsburg (84), Kennedy (80), and Breyer (78); two liberals and that pesky swing vote. Tilting the court from 5-4 conservative with a swing vote to 6-3 hard right with the swing vote rendered powerless would be irresistible to Republicans. The person they would nominate would make Scalia look like a reasonable centrist and the filibuster would be immediately eliminated to clear the way.

The best move is for Democrats to filibuster Gorsuch now. Either Republicans back down and find a more centrist and acceptable nominee, or they eliminate the filibuster, pissing off the voters and handing the Democrats a sledge hammer for the midterms. Taking back the Senate is a surefire way to keep future right wing extremists off the Court, no?

2. The Russia problem – When Hillary Clinton was being investigated by the FBI over the giant nothingburger of her emails, Republicans archly announced that it would be wrong to make her president. Now that Trump and a growing number of his very close associates are being investigated for treason (a slightly more serious charge, I’m told), we’re supposed to ignore that and let him make a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court? That’s not just ridiculous on its face, it presents a very real danger to our democracy.

It’s important to note that this is not an argument to deny Gorsuch the seat because Trump is incompetent or a historically terrible president. That’s not a compelling reason. Rather, this is explicitly about a seat on the Supreme Court being filled by a president that almost certainly colluded with Russia to attack our country. Such an appointment, especially if (when) Trump is removed or forced out of office, would taint every decision of the Court for the next 20+ years. Gorsuch could be impeached but Republicans, having already sacrificed all of their ethics to secure his seat, would never go along with it. Public trust in the Court would be annihilated, fatally undermining one of the few foundations of our system of government that Republicans have yet to set fire to.

Which brings us to the single most compelling reason the Democratic Party must block Gorsuch with every means at their disposal:

1. It’s a stolen seat – When Republicans refused to hold confirmation hearings for Obama nominee Merrick Garland, they did something that had never been done in the history of the United States. Their ever-changing justifications all rang hollow and everyone knew it. Biden said the Dems should steal a seat? Bullshit. Democrats (and 6 Republicans) voting against Robert Bork? Not even remotely the same. Obama was a lame duck? Who fucking cares? He was still president. Blocking Garland was a craven abuse of power for the sole purpose of stealing a seat on the Supreme Court. 

Republicans did this because they fully believe that the Court belongs to them. They’ve controlled it for decades and it’s allowed them to cling to unearned power in the face of an electorate that rejects them in every election. Without a conservative Supreme Court to uphold their extreme gerrymandering and voter suppression laws, Republicans will be reduced to a regional party in under 20 years. Allowing them to seat Gorsuch is literally rewarding them for openly assaulting our democracy. By caving to pressure when they are so clearly in the moral, legal and historical right, Democrats would be rolling over at a time when they should be baring their teeth. 

Compromise is the nature of politics and while not everyone on the left understands that, most do. But you cannot compromise with a political party as desperate for power and control as the Republican Party. They are done playing by any of the old rules and if they can get away with using an illegitimate president to place an illegitimate Justice on the Court, they will without thinking twice about it. Hiding behind “preserving the filibuster” will not be an acceptable excuse. Even if Republicans promise to keep it in place, they won’t if another seat opens up.

If the Democrats want to take back the House and Senate in 2018 and stop Trump’s unprecedented corruption, they need to stand tall and show their base that they will go to any length to fight for what’s right. Anything less and we might as well let Trump do away with free elections and get it over with instead of continuing with the farce Republicans have turned our democracy into.