We are at a genuine crisis point.
With the unfortunate and untimely death of the heroic and unparalleled Notorious Ruth Bader-Ginsburg, our country is at a precipice of civil rights roll backs unlike the developed world has ever seen in the post-World War Two era. At a time when we were already facing an historic election of epic proportions—ranging from the SARS-CoV-2 virus to government corruption on a scale the United States has never had to deal with to literal fascism on the rise within the Executive Branch—we are now facing the implications of a generational shift of the judiciary. The stakes literally could not be higher for this election cycle.
Over the last 72 hours I have had numerous friends ask me “what can we do?” or “how can we fight this?” And, unfortunately, my answer has been that we can’t do much of anything. The United States Constitution prescribes the appointment of Supreme Court Justices by the President and confirmation by the Senate, meaning that there is no mechanism for intervention by the People. There are no means by which the appointment can be challenged in court, nor blocked by the House. And, as we all know, the “precedent” that Senate Majority Leader Moscow Mitch
McTurtle McConnell set in 2016 won’t hold. That wasn’t even a question.
In 2016, with nine months to go until Election Day, the Republican led Senate decided to violate the explicit terms of the Appointments Clause of the United States Constitution (Article II §2C.2) which states that “…and [the President] shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.” by holding Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat open until after President Trump was inaugurated in January of 2017. This unprecedented and unconstitutional action by McConnell denied President Obama his constitutionally enumerated power to nominate and appoint “Judges of the Supreme Court.” It was a devastating power grab from the right and should have, rightfully, shocked the conscious of every citizen of the country, regardless of their political affiliation or beliefs. This erosion of the checks and balances in our government by drips and drabs threatens us all and risks the very bedrock of our democracy. However, it set a new precedent, which the Republican caucus made promises and assurances that they would uphold should a similar scenario present itself in the “last year of the first term of [the next President’s Term of Office].”
Today, in 2020, with fewer than 50 days to Election Day, with the election itself actually underway in more than 30 states through mail-in-voting and at least two states through early, in-person voting, Republicans want to ram through an entire nomination, hearing, and confirmation before Inauguration Day 2021, despite having made on-the-record promises and affirmations to do exactly the opposite in 2016, 2018, and 2019. This flagrant hypocrisy is, again, an erosion of the checks and balances in our government and threatens us all—liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat, and everyone in between—by weakening the institutions that are supposed to operate to protect us.
However, the question remains: what can be done? What can we—any of us, anyone—do to stop this? How can we ensure that Ruth Bader-Ginsburg’s “most fervent wish” that her seat be held open until after Inauguration Day 2021 be fulfilled?
I don’t know. By the numbers, per the Constitution, according to the rules… nothing. So, I guess we have to stop playing “by the rules.” We have to make this hurt for the Republicans, we have to make it so painful, so unpalatable, so abhorrent, and so divisive that they’re as afraid of it as an electrified third rail.
Remember, dear reader, this is the party who, as the sitting President tear gassed and pepper sprayed BLM protesters outside the White House, applauded and praised his actions. Remember, dear reader, this is the party who, as the sitting President conspired to bribe and coerce a foreign power to aid him in cheating in the present election, voted to leave him in office. Remember, dear reader, this is the party who, as the sitting President knew of the risks and challenges presented by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus yet did absolutely nothing to warn or prepare the American public, said nothing to admonish him. Remember, dear reader, this is the party who, as the sitting President nearly started a global armed conflict with Iran, cheered him on! And that’s all just from the last year. Don’t forget the preceding three years. Don’t forget the children in cages, the tax cut for rich people and corporations on the backs of the rest of us. Don’t forget the 20,000+ lies told directly to the camera. Don’t forget the Paris Accords and the climate crisis. Don’t forget these things and the devil’s bargain the Republican Party made in 2016. Are you angry again yet? Because you damn well should be! And you should take that anger and channel it into action.