As utterly insane as the first six week's of Donald Trump's "Presidency" have been (and insane is the nicest adjective that I can think of), it can be hard to remember that, in the middle of all the insanity, there is yet a very important piece of business to transact. Or, as some might prefer it (and by some, I mean including me), not to transact at all. Nevertheless, it is important in no small part because its potential impact exceeds any potential length of Trump's stay in the White House. It is his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to fill the Merrick Garland seat on the Supreme Court.
You can be forgiven for not remembering Justice Garland's career on the Court. That's because, although it should have happened, it never did. The Chief Judge of the D.C. federal Circuit Court of Appeals, Garland was nominated almost a year ago by then-President Obama to fill a seat that had been vacated by the sudden death of Antonin Scalia. However, given that all of this was taking place in the last year of Obama's term, combined with the prospect of a contentious presidential election around the corner, Mitch McCONnell, the Senate majority leader, decided to play Russian roulette with the constitutional responsibility of the Senate to approve or disapprove of a Supreme Court nominee. He said their would be no vote, based on a rule he cobbled out of thin air based on a quote from Vice President Biden.
McCONnell won the game when Trump (sort-of) won the election. In the process, constitutional government and the American people lost. And now, Judge Gorsuch, the son of one of the absolutely meanest Republican appointees in history, appears ready to be rubber-stamped onto a former third branch of government, itself poised in the process to become a rubber stamp.
Corporate media slobbered all over the news about the Gorsuch nomination, in much the same way that they slobbered all over Trump's State of the Union address this past week. The former was "mainstream," the latter was "presidential." This is sadly a tribute to the extent to which, as someone once said, all journalism is tabloid journalism--the triumph of style over substance. Were Judge Gorsuch "mainstream," he would not have been on Trump's pre-election list of prospective appointees, the list that conservatives had to sign off on before they could embrace him. And the SOTU address was little more than his standard litany of rhetorical punching bags, dressed up in fancier language.
But that SOTU address, as it turns out, was not the "pivot" moment that corporate media had long dreamed of, the moment when Trump could magically turn into someone they could approve of and then get back to making money. It was an island of "normalcy" in the Sea of Trump, a sea filled with tidal waves, typhoons and hidden reefs. The waves and typhoons are Trump's lust for popularity and vendettas against those who oppose him. The reefs are his connections to Russia, and led this past week to finding his Attorney General on the brink of resignation, and a tweet-storm in which he accused his predecessor of personally wiretapping him.
Sorry to break this too you, corporate media, but no, there's never going to be any "pivot." There is nothing "presidential" about Donald Trump. He is a dangerously unstable narcissist who cares about nothing except himself, and his short-term popularity. Such a person, regardless of his or her professed politics, should not be in the White House in the first place. And that is all the more true when, as in this case, we have no idea whatsoever of the extent to which he is the real-life Manchurian Candidate.
Those facts form the basis of my first point against installing Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. A lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land must not be in the hands of a madman/foreign agent, until (if ever) the cloud of doubt on both points is removed. And no, I'm not alone in thinking this way. Here are one, two, and even three concurring opinions.
As for the other two points:
The Supreme Court, in order to fulfill its Constitutional purpose, cannot be politicized. McCONnell's decision to play wait-and-see-if-we-get-an-all-GOP-government, combined with the pre-election commitment from Republican senators to spend four years blocking any prospective Clinton judicial appointees, represents the worst form of politicization. In form and substance, it overthrows any real control by the voters of the appointment process. And it prevents the court system--and the Supreme Court in particular--from serving as an independent check on the excesses of the political process. Again, two concurring opinions, here and here. Both of which, incidentally, lead me into my third point.
The Democratic Party has got to stop letting the bad guys steal the voters' lunch money. Unsurprisingly, there are media voices telling Senate Democrats that there's no point in putting up a fight, that doing so would simply lead to McCONnell nuking the filibuster rule, that it's better to preserve that weapon for later. You can hear (or read) one of those voices here, if you've got the stomach for it. Sadly, there appear to be plenty of Democrats ready to heed this "advice."
But why? Why wait to use a weapon that may or may not be easier to use? Why telegraph weakness? At what point in the recent dealings between the two parties has that worked for Democrats, or their voters? To fail to even attempt a filibuster is to simply make it easier to fold the next time (and there will be a next time) a fight shows up at their doorstep. Ultimately, the filibuster rule becomes useless as a weapon, because the other side knows you're afraid to use it.
But if the other side knows you're ready to fight, that gives them a different set of calculations to make. Even if they do nuke the filibuster at that point, that forces them, and the voters, to live with the consequences of their bad ideas. That gives the voters more of a chance to do what McCONnell allegedly wants them to do--to "weigh in." And when the consequences of the bad ideas leads to a Democratic majority, that makes it all the easier to give the American people the things they want from Democrats in the first place.
For the sake of Constitutional government, for the sake of a real two-party system, and above all for the sake of a nation that is not just a proxy for another nation, the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court must be stopped. Stone cold dead in its tracks. And right now. No matter what McCONnell, the corporate media, or Herr Twitler has to say about it.