Opinion | Can Mitch McConnell Be Stopped?

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Two years in the past at The Atlantic Pageant, Senator Lindsey Graham defended the Republican resolution to dam President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Courtroom, Merrick Garland. “If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process is started, we’ll wait to the next election,” Graham said.

Now that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died, solely a month and a half earlier than the 2020 election, the possibility that the senator retains his phrase appears infinitesimal. (He has already stated that after Brett Kavanaugh, “the rules have changed.”)

Mitch McConnell definitely has no intention of abiding by the so-called McConnell rule, an invention to justify the Senate’s refusal to contemplate Garland in March 2016. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice,” McConnell stated then. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

However solely hours after Ginsburg’s loss of life was introduced, McConnell stated in a press release, “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.” His tortuous excuse is that his made-up rule is supposed to use solely when the Senate and the presidency are managed by completely different events.

Changing a progressive icon on the Supreme Courtroom with a hard-core reactionary — one who will overturn Roe v. Wade, decimate civil rights legislation and absolutely unshackle huge enterprise — is an existential matter for the correct. It’s each the end result of many years of conservative activism and maybe an insurance coverage coverage in case the 2020 election itself finally ends up being determined by the court docket, like Bush v. Gore.

The query now could be whether or not Trump and McConnell could be stopped, and what Democrats ought to do in the event that they aren’t.

Shortly earlier than Ginsburg’s loss of life was introduced, Senator Lisa Murkowski told Alaska Public Media that she wouldn’t vote to verify a brand new Supreme Courtroom justice this near the election. The Occasions’s Jonathan Martin tweeted that one other Republican senator, Susan Collins, informed him earlier this month that she would oppose seating a brand new justice in October.

Ought to Collins maintain agency — clearly nothing to rely on — two extra Republican senators must defy their management to save lots of an already overwhelmed, struggling, riven nation from being torn absolutely in half.

There’s a possible twist, due to the particular election in Arizona to fill John McCain’s previous seat. Mark Kelly, a Democrat, is operating in opposition to Martha McSally, who was appointed to that seat after McCain’s loss of life. If Kelly wins, as he’s favored to, he could possibly be seated as early as Nov. 30.

Relying on when the Senate holds affirmation hearings, that would imply solely three Republican senators could be required to carry the seat for Joe Biden to fill. It’s uncertain that three Republican senators would present such civic decency, however we should always nonetheless use each device at our disposal to demand it of them.

Outraged folks ought to take to the streets en masse. Democrats within the Senate might not be capable of cease Republicans from shoving a nominee by means of earlier than the election or throughout a lame-duck session, but when it occurs they need to do all of their energy to grind Senate enterprise to a halt.

And if Republicans do give Ginsburg’s seat to some Federalist Society fanatic, Democrats should, in the event that they win again the presidency and the Senate, abolish the filibuster and increase the court docket, including two seats to account for each Garland and Ginsburg.

This goes in opposition to Joe Biden’s instincts towards bipartisanship and nationwide reconciliation. But when Republicans proceed to ruthlessly bend the principles to ascertain the domination of the minority over the bulk, solely hardball techniques can restore democratic equilibrium. Republicans will shriek, however their brazen hypocrisy ought to justify such dramatic strikes within the eyes of the general public. They’ll be those who’ve annihilated no matter legitimacy the court docket has left.

Graham’s phrases couldn’t be clearer, nor may these of Senator Chuck Grassley, the previous chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who blocked Garland. Simply final month, Grassley stated that he “couldn’t move forward” with a Trump nominee this 12 months due to the 2016 customary. If Republicans drive a justice on us, it’s as a result of they consider that requirements are for suckers, and individuals who maintain energy needn’t be constrained by any pledge or institutional custom.

In keeping with Ginsburg’s granddaughter, the justice made a dying want: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

It doesn’t matter how exhausted we’re, or how troublesome the percentages. On this hell-spawned 12 months, we are able to both quit, or give all the things we are able to to cease a few of America’s worst males from blotting out the legacy of one among our easiest girls.


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