Republicans Are Stacking the Courts Right Under Our Noses.
When are Democrats going to pay attention?
Just recently, Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell made headlines with more of his brazen hypocrisy, when he said that he would indeed put a judge on the Supreme Court bench during an election year. Of course, he famously blocked Obama’s Supreme Court nominee for almost an entire year before the 2016 election.
Color me surprised.
In the midst of all this, Mitch McConnell’s hypocrisy and partisanship is the least interesting aspect of the conversation. Instead, it highlights a far greater issue: Democrats have never paid attention to the courts in the same way that Republicans have, and we’re going to pay for it.
According to the Center for American Progress, McConnell succeeded in keeping over 110 judicial seats open by the end of Obama’s presidency. They delve further into the issue, and state:
“After first preventing President Obama from appointing judges, change the nomination and confirmation process rules so that the most partisan conservative judges can be appointed at breakneck speed. First, conservative Senate leaders invoked the so-called nuclear option to allow Supreme Court justices to be confirmed through majority votes. Then they cut home-state senators out of the judicial nominations process, ending a century-old tradition of giving those senators a say in the judges that were confirmed. To further speed the process, they stopped working with the American Bar Association (ABA) to determine whether nominees were qualified to be judges, resulting in Trump nominating six nominees that the ABA deemed ‘not qualified.’ In addition, they broke the Senate committee review process by packing hearings and markups with too many nominees to properly vet, including doing so twice when the Senate was actually in recess.”
As much as I hate to admit it, Mitch McConnell is as brilliant as he is evil in this respect. I truly can think of no Democrat who has foreseen the advantages of the judicial court system like he has, and we’re all going to be paying the price. It almost goes without saying that the importance of the court system and it’s ability to shape the landscape of the government throughout the entire country cannot be understated. The whole purpose of the judicial system is of course to interpret the laws, and McConnell clearly knows the advantages of this tool. He may be a lot of things but he is not unintelligent, and McConnell is using his power to ensure that conservative ideals will continue to shape the nation for decades to come.
Perhaps the reason that Republicans have paid so much attention to the courts is because the conservative ideology they have adopted is inherently based on the conservation of traditions. Stacking a judicial body in the conservative favor that is largely obligated to make decisions based on precedent is the key to ensuring their values live on far longer than their congressional or executive power. Not to mention the fact that the judicial branch of government gets far less attention, so in all likelihood everything they are working towards can be accomplished with fewer people noticing.
The left has never really viewed the courts as a potentially partisan entity, and thus never focused on these advantages of the court system with the same urgency. If we fail to view the courts in the same way as the GOP, then whatever we accomplish in 2020 elections both at the legislative and/or executive level theoretically does not matter. Any laws we pass will fail to mean anything if we don’t take in to consideration the branch of government that interprets their legality. Congress finally moving forward with Medicare for All, or passing legislation that ends money in politics means nothing if the conservative federal or Supreme Court can render these moves useless.
Clearly, we are already incredibly behind in this area, and I’m not sure we can afford to fall any further. When we think about who to vote for in the 2020 democratic presidential primary, we must make sure that they understand that the Judicial branch — like almost everything else this day in age — is now a political tool. We must make sure they do not underestimate this, and understand how absolutely critical it is in order for them to get anything accomplished.