Just a quick reminder about something I see largely left out of the coverage of Republicans’ bad faith regarding the Supreme Court: Republicans eliminated the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.
This was supposed to be a seismic event, but I don’t hear it discussed much anymore in the overall Supreme Court debate and the so-called “packing the court” narrative.
In deploying this so-called nuclear option, [Republican] lawmakers are fundamentally altering the way the Senate handles one of its most significant duties, further limiting the minority’s power in a chamber that was designed to be a slower and more deliberative body than the House.
The move, once unthinkable among senators, is a testament to the creeping partisan rancor in recent years, after decades of at least relative bipartisanship on Supreme Court matters. Both parties have warned of sweeping effects on the court itself, predicting the elevation of more ideologically extreme judges now that only a majority is required for confirmation.
Highlighting this point is important because it supplies the necessary “glue” to fully understand the outrageous Republican behavior:
- Republicans’ boycott of Merrick Garland was egregious and improper.
- But, Republicans were only able to fill that seat with an ideologue like J. Gorsuch because Republicans eliminated the Supreme Court filibuster.
- The filibuster is what led Obama to nominate a centrist, moderate, “bipartisan” Merrick Garland. Even with Republicans in control, the same filibuster should have led to Republicans nominating their version of a moderate, centrist justice.
- The consequences continued with J. Kavanaugh, the first post-filibuster nomination. Kavanaugh was nominated and appointed solely because Republicans eliminated the Supreme Court filibuster. A transparently flawed, political hack with credible sexual assault allegations simply never would have been confirmed if the filibuster applied. Hell, we have had a prior candidate flame out simply because he once smoked pot in college.
- The reason that no Supreme Court Justice has been confirmed so close to an election — as occurred with Amy Coney Barret — is because the filibuster (not some “norm”) would have stopped it.
As you can see — the key event of the last few years was the Republicans eliminating the Supreme Court filibuster — the once-understood “nuclear option.”
So, the case against Republicans, properly understood, leads to three improper Supreme Court nominations based on three key facts: (i) denying Pres. Obama a nomination, (ii) eliminating the S.Ct. filibuster, and (iii) plowing ahead with confirming a nominee mere days before an election.
All three of these are necessary to understand and explain the Republicans’ wrongdoing. For some reason, Republicans’ elimination of the filibuster has fallen by the side. Let’s not allow that to happen.