07 April 2017

McConnell's Mushroom Cloud

As Mitch McConnell's mushroom cloud dissipates into the atmosphere, the Republican controlled Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch as the newest associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

The much anticipated scenario played out pretty much as expected. The Democrats threatened to filibuster his nomination--a first in the history of Supreme Court nominations. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell elected to go with the so-called "nuclear option"--bring the Senate rule about Supreme Court nominations into conformity with the Constitution itself. Now Republicans needed only a simple majority to confirm Gorsuch.

Some pundits suggest that the promised filibuster was an attempt at "payback" for the Republican refusal to hold hearings on then President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland. This conclusion is questionable. The filibuster seems to be the next escalation of  the ruthlessness that the Democratic Party has demonstrated for several decades now concerning the Supreme Court and lower federal courts.

The Democrats and their progressive supporters depend upon the federal courts to push an agenda--especially on so-called social issues--that the majority of Americans do not support. In addition, they depend upon the court to crush resistance emanating from the states. The Republicans control most state legislatures and governorships. And voters in many states have made their policy preferences on controversial questions known through their state governments or by means of initiatives and referendums. Yet the Republican success in state elections and conservative triumphs through initiatives and referendum have been  undermined by  progressive federal courts that "nationalize" every disputed question and subvert the federalism inherent in our Constitution.

The Democrats success in enacting their agenda depends upon control of the Supreme Court. Because of this, what use to be a routine and uneventful constitutional procedure transmogrified into the shameful spectacle that it is today--when party seems of more import than  principle.

Conservatives should be wary of celebration and gloating. Republican presidents, despite the vociferous opposition of Democrats, have nominated most Supreme Court justices in recent decades. And these so-called conservative jurists have delivered the votes for the decisions that affront the sensibilities of conservatives and violate the text of the Constitution--Warren, Blackmun, Souter, Kennedy, etc.  There is no guarantee that Gorsuch will show more fealty to the Constitution than to precedent.

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