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Chuck Schumer: “I will oppose Kavanaugh with everything I’ve got”

There is a disturbing crisis of legitimacy surrounding the five so-called “conservatives” on the U.S. Supreme Court. Since the appointment of Samuel Alito swung the Court far to the right in 2005, those five Republican appointees have overruled numerous precedents and tossed out long standing statutes in a series of cases that have shifted power to the wealthy and assisted the electoral prospects of the GOP. This is the most politically activist Supreme Court since the “ five stubborn old men” tossed out most of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal during his first term.

In 2010, the five member activist majority re-wrote the campaign finance laws in its infamous decision in Citizens United. The new campaign finance system imposed by judicial fiat has given us a one dollar, one vote system. In addition, the five GOP appointees have gutted the Voting Rights Act, sustained extreme gerrymandering schemes hatched by the GOP and destroyed the rights of working people to participate in the political process as members of unions.

Justice Anthony Kennedy joined with the right wing majority in advancing the political and economic interests of the top 1% and the GOP but he was moderate on abortion, marriage equality and the death penalty. The potential addition of D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Court will erase that part of Kennedy’s legacy and give our country the most extreme Supreme Court majority since the first Gilded Age between 1870–1936.

Kavanaugh is a long time, loyal foot soldier for the GOP. He served in Ken Starr’s misguided effort to impeach Bill Clinton and helped represent George W. Bush in the 2000 Supreme Court decision that handed the presidency to the toxic Texan. Subsequently, Kavanaugh served as the White House counsel to Bush. He was rewarded for his service with a plum assignment to the prestigious D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006.

As a loyal GOP apparatchik and a member of the D.C. Circuit, Kavanaugh has a long history of comforting the already comfortable, fighting for GOP aligned special interest groups and rejecting the claims of the under privileged. During his prior service for the GOP, the new Supreme Court nominee:

  • Praised the dissent in Roe v. Wade.
  • Criticized John Roberts’ majority opinion in the 2012 case that affirmed the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
  • Said that a sitting president can’t be subpoenaed. (This represents a complete reversal of the position he took when he worked for the Starr investigation.)
  • Wrote a law review article in which he said that a sitting president can’t be indicted or be a defendant in a civil lawsuit.
  • Opposed Net Neutrality.
  • Opposed the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau; and
  • Said an assault weapons ban is unconstitutional.

Kavanaugh is clearly a dangerous radical whose nomination must be vigorously opposed. Democrats need to reject the conventional wisdom that it would be a mistake to fight. As I’ve said here before, the D.C. conventional wisdom is generated by the Republicans.

I will concede that it will be difficult to defeat Kavanaugh because we need two Republican votes. The so-called “moderate” Republicans usually cave to Trump and the radical right.

Schumer and the Senate Democrats need to use every rule and procedure available to string out this nomination as long as possible. That may allow public opinion to come out against Kavanaugh. There is no ground swell of public opinion in support of restricting reproductive rights, wrecking campaign finance laws or undermining environmental protections.

There are some quirks in the Senate rules that Schumer and the Democrats can use to make life miserable for McConnell and the Republicans. For example, there must be unanimous consent from the Senators for committees to meet longer than two hours. There must also be a quorum of senators to conduct business. The Democrats could simply boycott the hearings because Merrick Garland wasn’t granted a hearing in 2016.

Once the nomination reaches the floor of the Senate, there are even more procedural rules the Democrats can use to slow things down. In order to conduct business on the floor, there must be a majority of senators present. Once again, the Democrats could refuse to participate in the proceedings.

Without a doubt, McConnell could eventually hold an up or down vote on Kavanaugh but the Democrats could burn up a significant amount of floor time. This is similar to the tactics employed by McConnell and the Senate Republicans when they were in the minority during the Obama presidency.

Recent history demonstrates that McConnell and the Congressional Republicans weren’t punished for their all out obstruction. Instead, things turned out nicely for the GOP and they now control all three branches.

The time is now for all out resistance to a radical right wing take over of the U.S. Senate. We may lose the battle but we will eventually win the war. The Democrats are poised to make big gains in the Congress this fall. However, those gains won’t come without our hard work. Now let’s get it done! No excuses!

I’m a trial lawyer, a Democratic activist and a sports fan.

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