Sunday, June 2, 2019

Why Democrats may lose Roe v. Wade.

In the Transcript of Pelosi Weekly Press Conference for May 23rd. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi likened the House’s capabilities to walking and chewing gum. “We can walk and chew gum at the same time. I hope [the President] can, too.” She cited legislation and various investigations in support of that claim.

So here is a quiz. Which of these activities does not belong?

(A) legislate
(B) investigate
(C) confirmate

If you’ve been tracking the back-and-forth between Pelosi and Trump, you will know that Pelosi was referring to the House legislating and investigating at the same time. I thought I had invented (C) but only to find out that it is the “first-person plural present active imperative of cōnfirmō”, a Latin word present in the Wiktionary.

The Senate has the constitutional responsibility to confirmate judicial nominees (or not). Why are the Republicans racking up more and more hits for conservative judges and SCOTUS justices? Why cannot Dems in Congress do all three of those things at once?

Jeffery Toobin writing in the New Yorker has the answer: Why Mitch McConnell Outmaneuvers Democrats at Filling the Supreme Court. To be sure “… the main reason that McConnell might push through a Republican nominee to the Court while blocking a Democratic choice is simple: because he can.”

There’s another, less obvious reason that McConnell can game the Supreme Court confirmation process with impunity. The Republican Party has been far more invested in the future of the Supreme Court, and of the judiciary generally, than the Democratic Party has. Judicial appointments, especially to the Supreme Court, are a central pillar of the Republican agenda, and Republican voters will forgive any number of other transgressions if the Party delivers on the courts.

Donald Trump understood this. … That’s why, during the 2016 campaign, he released a short list of possible nominees to the Court. The list was largely compiled by Leonard Leo, the executive vice-president of the Federalist Society, and the names on it demonstrated to the Republican base that Trump was serious about following its agenda—starting with overruling Roe v. Wade. Trump’s nominations of Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and of dozens of other conservatives to the lower courts, have been crucial to the President’s preservation of his stratospheric level of support from that base. Conservatives forgive Trump his louche personal life and his casual dishonesty because they know that they are getting the judges and the Justices they want.

Democrats are different. Consider what happened after McConnell blocked the Garland nomination. After a few days of perfunctory outrage, most Democratic politicians dropped the issue. …

Four years later, this pattern is recurring. Consider, for example, the Web sites of three leading contenders for the Democratic Presidential nomination: Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. Each site has thousands of words outlining the candidates’ positions on the issues—and none of them mentions Supreme Court nominations, much less nominations for lower-court judges. …

It’s difficult to pinpoint why Republicans are so much more motivated by the Supreme Court than Democrats are. Complacency could be part of the reason. Despite a preponderance of Republicans on the Court for the past couple of generations, the Justices have expanded gay rights, including the right to marriage, and preserved abortion rights, by reaffirming Roe. But, thanks largely to McConnell, and, of course, to Trump, those days are likely over. Trump rallied his supporters by promising to appoint Justices who will vote to overturn Roe, and the day of that vote may soon be upon us. By the time Democrats wake up to the importance of the Court, it may be too late.

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