The political world was rocked by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was one of the legal giants of our lifetime. Before she took the bench, RBG was one of the greatest Supreme Court litigators of all time. She won several landmark cases in the Supreme Court during the 1970s that knocked down barriers for women. She was the equivalent of Thurgood Marshall when it comes to women’s rights.
Bader Ginsburg’s brilliant legal career led to her appointment to the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 1980 by President Carter. This slot was available because the Democrats had passed a bill in 1978 expanding the number of seats on the lower federal courts by 152 or 33%. Her most significant opinion on the Supreme Court was the 1996 case that struck down Virginia Military Institute’s male-only admissions policy as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Within an hour of Bader-Ginsburg’s death, Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell danced on her grave by announcing that they would move swiftly to nominate and confirm her replacement. The hypocrisy of this extreme move is staggering. In 2016, McConnell refused to hold any hearings and a vote on the nomination of Merrick Garland based upon a phony rule: “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
Nebraska’s Senators joined McConnell’s illegitimate blockade of the Garland nomination. Sasse said in 2016: “I think that the president’s nominee to the Supreme Court is obviously dead on arrival… In this case the nominee is not going to be confirmed.” Deb Fischer agreed with Sasse and McConnell: “There is precedent that suggests the vacancy should not be filled during a presidential election year, but rather by the newly elected president. It’s not about the person.”
You can be sure that Fischer and Sasse will continue to act as rubber stamps for Trump and McConnell and do a 180 on what they regarded as an absolute allegiance to a sacred Constitutional “principle” four short years ago.
There is no doubt that the GOP Senators who support jamming through a nomination this year are contemptible hypocrites. Nonetheless, the American people don’t get excited about process issues since they hold most politicians in low regard. Instead, we need to focus on the big picture to win this fight.
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe tweeted: An unpopular President trying to ram through an unpopular pick who will do unpopular things should produce additional electoral tail winds for Dems. Fully maximizing them is the task at hand.
The leading candidate to replace RBG is 7th Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett. She is an extremist who has contended that Roe v. Wade was an “erroneous decision” and wrote a recent law review article that criticized the 2012 Supreme Court decision that held that the Affordable Care Act was constitutional.
What that means is that every Republican Senator that votes to fill Ginsburg’s seat is voting to kick over 20 million Americans off their health insurance in the middle of a pandemic. They also want to criminalize abortion. That’s what this is all about.
Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm tweeted: “77% of Americans want to keep Roe v. Wade. 83% want to keep the ACA’s protection for people with pre-existing conditions. These two health care issues — will shape the fights for all three branches of government in this election.”
Trump and McConnell’s decision to ram through the nomination of a radical right winger is political malpractice and presents the Democrats with a tremendous opportunity. As Robert F. Kennedy said: “All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don’t. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.”
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said yesterday: “Let me be clear: if Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans move forward with this, then nothing is off the table for next year. Nothing is off the table.”
If McConnell manages to jam through a nominee in 2020, there will be hell to pay for the GOP. As I said, confirming a GOP nominee means the demise of the Affordable Care Act during the middle of a pandemic and the end to Roe v. Wade. Ramming through a Supreme Court nominee will most likely cost the GOP the Senate and the Democrats will run the table this fall.
The Senate Democrats need to tell McConnell that if he breaks his 2016 promises, the Democrats will play hardball after the election. The Democrats need to end the filibuster, expand the Supreme Court to 13 seats and add Puerto Rico and D.C. as states. We need to be as tough as the Republicans.
Democrats across the country have been energized by this fight. The death of RBG has generated more than $100 million in donations to Democratic candidates. Act Blue was overwhelmed with contributions in the 48 hours after the liberal icon’s death, breaking the record for most money given in an hour since Act Blue began recording in 2004 — $6.3 million.
I believe that we’re in the last gasp of minority rule. The emerging Democratic majority will be triumphant in 2020. This election will be as consequential as the 1932 election that swept Franklin Roosevelt and the Democrats into power for a generation.
In 2021, we will create the democracy envisioned by the Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln. (Historians have referred to the post-Civil War 14th and 15th amendments as the “Second American Revolution.”) We will have an expanded Supreme Court, an end to the filibuster rule that has blocked progressive reforms for decades, the restoration of voting rights and two new states.
This is the most important election of our lifetimes. It’s democracy v. minority rule and autocracy. This election is about your future, your right to healthcare, a genuine democracy and where science matters. You can be the difference. Vote! Vote! Vote!