Dionne: Outrage sparked over judicial power grab must fuel change


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court’s legitimacy is in tatters. Conservative forces in the country, led by the Republican Party, have completed a judicial coup, decades in the making.

Republicans rushed through Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to avoid the possible consequences of an election. They aborted a full investigation because they feared what it might find. They made themselves complicit in a presidential attack on Christine Blasey Ford, a brave woman who asked only that her case against Kavanaugh be taken seriously.

After all these outrages, there will be calls for a renewal of civility, as if the problem is that people said nasty things about each other. But the answer to this power grab cannot be passive acceptance in the name of being polite. The causes and consequences of what just happened must be acknowledged frankly.

The conservative struggle for the court began in the 1960s, but it hit its stride in the Bush v. Gore decision after the 2000 election. Five conservative justices violated the principles they claimed to uphold on states’ rights and the use of equal-protection doctrine to stop a recount of votes in Florida requested by Al Gore, the Democratic nominee. They thus made George W. Bush president.

The pro-Bush justices made abundantly clear that they were grasping at any arguments available to achieve a certain outcome by declaring, “our consideration is limited to the present circumstances.” Translation: Once Bush is in, please forget what we said here.

Bush then appointed two staunch conservatives to the court: John Roberts (one of Bush’s legal foot-soldiers in Florida) as chief justice as well as Samuel Alito.

More recently, Senate Republicans kept the late Antonin Scalia’s seat open for over a year, refusing Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee, either a hearing or a vote. Neil Gorsuch, a far more conservative jurist, took the seat instead.

Now comes Kavanaugh. In blocking Garland, Republicans said it was urgent to wait until after the 2016 election to let the voters speak. They rushed Kavanaugh through to get him onto the court before the voters could speak in 2018. When power is all that matters, consistency is for suckers.

In the process, the White House turned the FBI investigation of Ford’s claims and Kavanaugh’s (questionable) credibility into a whitewash. Don McGahn, the White House counsel and Kavanaugh’s leading advocate, told Trump, as The New York Times put it, that a “wide ranging inquiry … would be potentially disastrous for Judge Kavanaugh’s chances of confirmation.” You wonder what McGahn thought it would find.

There is also this: A generations-long conservative majority on the court has been cemented in place by a political minority. Kavanaugh was named by a president who won 46 percent of the popular vote and confirmed by senators representing 44 percent of the population. When you lack a majority, controlling the branch of government not subject to the voters is vital to working your will.

Democracy is all that opponents of the coup have left. In next month’s elections, the party responsible for this travesty must be punished. The idea that “both …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics

      

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