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Colson: Judicial fight an aspect of Trump coup d’etat

John Colson
Hit & Run

This, for me, is one of those moments when I find myself veering between the prosaical and the acronymical.

Sometimes it simply is easier to communicate through a combination of capital letters rather than the complete words themselves.

An example:

OMG!

RBG is DOA, and the USA democracy may be SOL!

If you need a little help translating the above, I suggest a series of Google searches and a tumbler of your favorite beverage (alcoholic or otherwise) to help ease things along.

Or, you can merely read along as I explain that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s unwelcome demise from a wicked little cancer last Friday, at the age of 87, has put this nation in electoral peril.

I lament her passing, of course, and I salute her service as a treasured icon of jurisprudence and wisdom.

Having served as one of The Nine since being nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1992 (she was confirmed the following year), Ginsburg had carved out a reputation for quick-wittedness, toughness, progressive thinking and a dedication to further the rights of women wherever possible.

She declined suggestions that she step down while Barack Obama was president (back when she was a mere girl in her 70s), suggestions based on the theory that Obama would have appointed a replacement who reflected her values but who was younger and therefore not in danger of dying on the job just when we need her the most.

We cannot know for certain how an Obama nominee in this circumstance might have fared in a U.S. Senate that already had become hyper-partisan, though the treatment of his Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in 2016 offers us a clue.

What we can easily answer, however, is the question of whether the present Republican majority has any sense of shame or honor at all, and the clear conclusion is, “NO!”

As has been bandied about in print, on the airwaves and online, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was gleefully ready, even before RBG died, to ram through the confirmation process of whatever nominee President Donald Trump comes up with.

The fact that McConnell and his henchman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), then chair of the judiciary committee, refused throughout 2016 to allow even a hearing on Obama’s nominee, the rather moderate federal appeals court judge Garland, to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, is not merely hypocritical, it is deranged.

Grassley even said earlier this year that he was opposed to the idea of a late-stage confirmation process on a Trump nominee, as did Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowsky last week. But Grassley has been silent on the matter recently.

McConnell and his allies in the Senate have claimed that “circumstances have changed,” meaning they now have a Republican in the White House rather than a Democrat, plainly putting party loyalties over all other considerations.

And they obviously are counting on confirmation of some right-wing ideologue who would do as the party bids in the off-chance that the Trump-Biden election ends up in the kind of stalemate that left it up to the “Supremes” to decide the 2000 election between Al Gore and George W. Bush. As we now know, the U.S. Supreme Court gave the election to Bush, despite the fact that Gore won a higher number of votes in the popular election than Bush.

In case readers have forgotten, that court decision gave Florida’s Electoral College votes to Bush, by ordering that the state stop counting ballots in an election that was marred by illegalities and many, many mistakes.

That was the first time I realized the Federal Electoral College actually is an enemy of democracy. The second time was in 2016, when Trump won the electoral college race despite losing the popular-vote count to Hillary Clinton by some 3 million votes.

My objection to McConnell’s anti-democratic plan regarding the Supreme Court nomination process is not, however, based merely on partisan politics, but on the damage such a decision does to democracy.

The voting in the 2020 election already has started. Votes are being cast as you read this, beginning with North Carolina, which in early September started mailing out ballots to voters.

According to a Sept. 4 story on NPR, the state had logged more than 643,000 requests for absentee ballots, compared with fewer than 39,000 in 2016.

And, according to the NPR story, “almost every state has seen a similar surge” in early-ballot requests, and that early voting generally favors voters on the Democrats’ side of the fence.

What that means is that the rush to confirm a candidate clearly is a cynical bid to get this justice in under the wire in case Trump loses to Joe Biden, and to have a solid majority of justices on Trump’s side if there is any way he can throw the election into the courts.

The Republican party has tossed aside any pretense of adhering to democratic norms and practices, opting instead for a “power-at-any-cost” operating philosophy that has led to the ongoing gerrymandering crisis across America, which is related to the party’s insistence that the Electoral College be preserved in the face of progressive pressures to see the College for the outmoded, anti-democratic institution that it is.

And the Trump coup d’etat rolls on.

Email at jbcolson51@gmail.com.


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