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On the Supreme Court, Democrats finally get their just - desserts 31 years later.

Posted: Sep 11th, 2018 - 1:48 pm

Are you happy now, Teddy Kennedy? Are you happy, Joe Biden? Are you happy now, Harry Reid? It’s due to the things that you did and said that Donald J. Trump is now naming his second Supreme Court justice in under two years in office. It is your fault that the once courtly process of Supreme Court appointments turned into the blood-and-thunder-eye-gouging drama that we hate and we live through today.

It was 31 years ago, in 1987, that Edward M. Kennedy burst on the floor of the Senate to tell us all that with Robert Bork on the Supreme Court, “women would be forced Into back-alley abortions,” blacks would eat at segregated lunch counters, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the government, and the freedom of millions would hang by a thread.

Before it was over, liberals would raise and spend over $10 million in negative ads (quite a sum at the time) and in lobbying efforts. They would threaten black witnesses with career-ending reprisals and seize and search records of video rentals for signs of blue movies that were never found.

As Steve Hayward says, “The demagogic nature of the public campaign against him made it a watershed moment in American politics, permanently deforming the nomination process as for the judiciary, with ideological battles now extending to the lower federal courts as well.” How true this was proven in 1991, when Kennedy’s office unleashed Anita Hill upon Clarence Thomas, though with less success.

And in 1992, Biden averred that if a vacancy occurred in the Supreme Court before the presidential election, the Democratic Senate should refuse to let Republican President George H.W. Bush fill it until the election was over, so that the new president (who would be Bill Clinton) could decide.

Twenty-four years later, in 2016, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died of a heart attack, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took this advice. He refused to allow a vote on a nominee picked by an exiting Democrat. Democrats fumed, but, as they expected a President Hillary Clinton, they bided their time.

Picture their rage when Trump was elected, bringing not only himself but a procession of judges whom a Republican Senate would rush to confirm. The first pick, Neil Gorsuch, did not change the court’s balance, and Democrats would have done better to put up a fight on the second one, which would. But their anger and shock knew no bounds.

In 2013, in a fit of pique at GOP opposition, Majority Leader Harry Reid had blown up the 60-vote rule for non-Supreme Court nominations, reducing the threshold to a simple majority vote. “You will regret this,” McConnell had said at the time, and he would be prescient. Democrats went to war, and McConnell went nuclear, later blowing up the 60 vote rule for Supreme Court nominations — just as Hillary Clinton’s running mate had promised to do after she won in 2016.

Now Democrats need that judicial filibuster, and it’s no longer there for them, lost in the rubble they helped to create.

Pity the Democrats. Thirty-one years of blood, sweat, and tears in which they sacrificed all to the abortion rights movement, uprooting rule after rule and norm after norm, laying waste to the rules of Supreme Court selection in the interests of what remains a fringe issue.

All that, and they ended up even further behind than they were when they started, with Trump and Mike Pence in positions of power, about to cement a conservative Supreme Court majority for who knows how many more years. One could feel sorry for them, if only they didn't so richly deserve this comeuppance.

Do you feel better, Robert Bork, now that justice has triumphed? Happy now, Kennedy; and Biden, and Reid?



LINK/URL: On the Supreme Court, Democrats finally get their just

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