How The GOP Wrecked The Supreme Court
Since 1937, the U.S. Supreme Court has been perceived by most Americans as neutral and above politics. (Between 1870 and 1936, the Supreme Court was controlled by big business and used questionable legal doctrines to throw out progressive reforms passed by the elected branches.) Unfortunately, the nomination and potential confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh has once again called into question the very legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Since the 1980s, the GOP and its big business allies have worked hard (and effectively) to pack the federal courts with movement conservatives. Unfortunately, the GOP has been largely successful in this endeavor. The current “conservative” majority has consistently ruled in favor of big business and the top 1% and against consumers, labor and minorities. These decisions have also tilted the electoral playing field in favor of the GOP.
A major turning point in the modern history of the Supreme Court was the replacement of Sandra O’Connor with Samuel Alito in 2005. That change moved the Court sharply to the right. Once Alito was a member, a five member activist “conservative” majority has consistently sided with big business over individuals and consumers. The Roberts Court greatly expanded the ability of the wealthy to influence election campaigns with its infamous decision in Citizens United and its progeny.
At the same time, the “conservatives” gutted the Voting Rights Act and gave the green light to voter suppression laws that are deliberately aimed at reducing voting among minorities and the young. Moreover, the “conservatives” on the Supreme Court have used novel and unusual First Amendment legal theories to gut the ability of working families to participate in the political process by gutting the rights of unions.
Perhaps even more troubling is that if Kavanaugh is confirmed, this so-called “conservative” majority will likely be deemed to be illegitimate by a majority of the American people. This is because the GOP is using the federal courts to implement its regressive and unpopular agenda. For example, reproductive rights are widely popular but the “conservatives” on the Supreme Court are preparing to either gut Roe v. Wade or overrule it in its entirety.
Irregularities in the confirmation process didn’t start with Kavanaugh and further call into question the legitimacy of the “conservative” majority. In 1991, then Senator Joe Biden — after yielding to pressure from Orrin Hatch — failed to call as witnesses two additional women who claimed they were sexually harassed by Clarence Thomas. That also creates the implication that Thomas perjured himself.
The blockade of Merrick Garland’s nomination in 2016 wrecked the confirmation process and further called into doubt the very legitimacy of the Supreme Court. The nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016 gave Progressives their first opportunity in over 40 years to have a majority on the nation’s highest court.
However, the Republicans, in unprecedented fashion, refused to allow hearings and an up or down vote on Garland’s nomination. This blockade broke the Republicans’ long time promise to allow an up or down vote on all judicial nominees — regardless of the party affiliation of the president. As Mitch McConnell said in 2005: “The Republican conference intends to restore the principle that, regardless of party, any President’s judicial nominees, after full debate, deserve a simple up-or-down vote.”
Garland’s seat was filled by Trump and the GOP in 2017 by Neil Gorsuch. McConnell broke another long standing norm and eliminated the filibuster rule for Supreme Court nominees to jam through Gorsuch.
Confirmation irregularities have also besmirched the possible confirmation of Kavanaugh. He lied under oath and the GOP majority refused to produce additional witnesses who could’ve addressed the question of the alleged sexual assaults committed by Kavanaugh. Moreover, Kavanaugh is still the bitter partisan he was when he worked for Ken Starr and the Bush White House. That’s not a good look for a judge who is supposed to be a fair minded fact finder and law giver.
We are in this predicament because millions of Democrats stayed home in 2014 and 2016. As a result of that failure, the GOP gained control of the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016. If voting didn’t matter, the GOP wouldn’t be passing voter suppression/ID laws. My advice to you is organize, volunteer and vote! We need to throw the rascals out!