Wednesday, June 27, 2018


Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court today. President Trump can now replace him with a young right-wing absolutist who won't even be an occasional swing vote. Mitch McConnell plans to get Trump's pick seated with brutal efficiency:
Senate Republicans plan to confirm a new Supreme Court justice to replace retiring Anthony Kennedy before the midterm elections, according to interviews with nearly a dozen Republican senators.

The Senate GOP is expected to execute a lightning strike confirmation despite their razor thin majority of 51 senators, which is effectively down to 50 as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) recovers from brain cancer. But because of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s rules change last year to push through Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, the GOP can unilaterally confirm a new justice without any Democratic support.....

McConnell told reporters that the nominee will be confirmed before this fall....

“The goal will be to get a conservative confirmed before the election,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the No. 4 GOP leader.
Is it possible that Trump's pick won't be rubber-stamped?
Whether Republicans can jam through another Scalia or Gorsuch remains to be seen. GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are moderate on social issues and will have heavy sway in what’s sure to be a narrow vote. Murkowski declined requests for comment in a brief interview.

Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) faces a difficult reelection in a swing state. And Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who is retiring, said that he and other senators won’t “rubber stamp” a judge just because it’s a Republican nomination.
But it's unlikely that they'll stand in Trump and McConnell's way, and even if they do, a number of red-state Democratic senators who are up for reelection will feel compelled to vote yes.

There don't seem to be any procedural tricks available to Senate Democrats in order to prevent this, so Rick Hasen is right -- there's only one thing left to do:
The only political hope here is for massive street protests, like we saw with the initial Trump travel ban to try to convince senators like Susan Collins of Maine or Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to vote no. It’s a long shot because we’ve seen these senators fold time and again. But it is worth trying.
Now, if you lived on another planet, you might imagine that protests would be taken seriously by the gatekeepers of our political culture. Chuck Todd, for instance, sees McConnell planning to rush this confirmation after he played stall ball for a year to keep Merrick Garland off the Court, and the hypocrisy is so obvious even Todd can't overlook it:

But we know what's going to happen if liberal interest groups take to the streets. A norm-shattering act of blatant hypocrisy that might hand decades-long control of the Supreme Court to a president who lost the popular vote and who's under investigation for colluding in election-rigging by an enemy country ... well, I'm sure Todd and others like him will think that's bad, but liberal demonstrators will be rude, and that's much, much worse. Surely we remember the backlash against the protestors who occupied the state capital in Wisconsin when Scott Walker and his army of Koch-bot legislators were fundamentally transforming the state: Golly, they were uncouth! And then they were so uncivil that they tried to recall the governor in a special election! Everyone just thought that was really not nice!

Yet it's all we've got. So let's get to it.

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