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Feingold writes: "While Russia's involvement in our elections is unquestionably horrible, and it will likely take many more drip, drip, drips before we know the full extent of it, our democracy is facing an equally devastating threat much closer to home."

'Republican senators abandoned their constitutional responsibilities and blocked Judge Garland’s nomination last year.' (photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)
'Republican senators abandoned their constitutional responsibilities and blocked Judge Garland’s nomination last year.' (photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP)


If Gorsuch Is Confirmed, the Legitimacy of the US Supreme Court Won't Recover

By Russ Feingold, Guardian UK

20 March 17

 

Never before has Senate leadership so openly and intentionally played political games with our highest court. The consequences are staggering

hile Russia’s involvement in our elections is unquestionably horrible, and it will likely take many more drip, drip, drips before we know the full extent of it, our democracy is facing an equally devastating threat much closer to home.

On Monday, when Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing is scheduled to begin, the Republicans will attempt to complete their cynical political takeover of the US supreme court, launched last year when they failed to confirm or to even give a hearing to Judge Merrick Garland.

Never before has Senate leadership so openly and intentionally played political games with our highest court. Already, the legitimacy of the supreme court has taken a severe blow because of it. But, if Gorsuch is confirmed, it would lock in a dangerous precedent from which the legitimacy of our highest court might never recover.

Republican senators abandoned their constitutional responsibilities and blocked Judge Garland’s nomination last year, for 293 days, leaving the court without a deciding vote on critical issues. They offered no legal justification for their actions, fully admitting that their sole intention was to orchestrate a coup of the supreme court by betting that a Republican would win the White House.

Some even pledged to keep the seat vacant for four more years in the event that a Democrat won the White House. The severity of this action and what it will mean for the court if Gorsuch is confirmed cannot be understated.

Confirming Gorsuch would endorse and normalize unconstitutional political games. It would encourage both parties to use and expand this strategy in the future, at the expense of our highest court and its critical role in our judicial system.

This time it was the last year of a president’s term, next it will be the year before midterm elections. It won’t be long before it extends to the whole two-year presidential campaign, amounting to three years of any presidential term where a supreme court seat cannot be filled.

And it is not just the supreme court that will be affected, as the strategy will be used to block appointments to lower courts. This is a slippery slope that ends with decimating the legitimacy of an entire branch of government, and the resulting checks and balances on which our democracy depends.

I have always considered the supreme court our country’s safety valve. When everything else fails, the court is there to protect the constitution and protect our civil rights. But today, the most important safety valve is the US Senate, specifically those senators with the conviction to fight for the legitimacy of the supreme court.

Judge Gorsuch might be qualified. He might be a fine judge. But the vacancy on the supreme court does not belong to him.

When President Trump took office, he had three options for filling the vacancy. He could have renominated Judge Garland, rectifying the wrong committed by the Republican party last year. He could have worked with both parties to nominate a consensus candidate, at least recognizing the need to reaffirm the legitimacy of the court by not validating the Republicans’ coup. Or he could do what he did – nominate a partisan judge, completely validating the Republicans’ coup and locking it in as a precedent.

Preventing this precedent and its resulting slippery slope now falls to the Senate. Democratic and independent senators, and any Republicans who still care about the legitimacy of the supreme court, must filibuster Gorsuch’s nomination.

They must demand that Judge Garland be renominated, or at a minimum, that a consensus candidate be selected with input from both parties – a nominee that will restore confidence in our nomination process, our judicial branch and our system of checks and balances.

Merely delaying Gorsuch’s hearing until after an investigation into Russia’s involvement is completed is not enough. His nomination represents a completely separate threat to our country from Trump’s troubling ties to Russia. The Republicans’ judicial coup spat in the face of our constitution, and a nomination that locks that in as a precedent cannot be accepted under any circumstances.

It is not hypocritical to try to right this wrong. It would be unconstitutional not to. The Senate, specifically Senate Democrats and independents, and any Republicans who care about our constitution, must do everything in their power to block Gorsuch’s nomination and demand the legitimacy of our supreme court be restored through the nomination of a consensus candidate.


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+52 # chapdrum 2017-03-20 12:08
Curious why this appeared in a UK publication, instead of US.
That aside, if Trump and campaign officials' collusion is proven, why wouldn't that moot Gorsuch's nomination?
 
 
-5 # lfeuille 2017-03-20 20:33
Impeachment is a political process. The Republicans won't impeach him because he is letting them have pet policy changes. There are not enough Democrats to impeach him. So Trump will stay and Gorsuch will be confirmed unless the Dems filibuster. But several of them are reported unwilling to do so.

No to mention that the Trump/Russia thing is all bullshit. They things the Dems are harping on are not crimes and are not at all unusual.

The Missing Logic of Russia-gate
https://consortiumnews.com/2017/03/20/the-missing-logic-of-russia-gate/
 
 
+6 # dsfingers 2017-03-20 22:17
Of course not, Pence would be in charge and anyways the election is signed sealed and delivered. Besides, where is there an "if" in all this...he's gonna be confirmed. As Dylan said,
"It's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard rain gonna fall" to the cheering crowds. It's time to admit there has been a full on coup.
 
 
+2 # ericlipps 2017-03-21 04:50
We should be that lucky.

First, "proven" is in the eyes of the beholder to some degree, and Republican eyes will be averted from any evidence that the Rump may have been involved in a criminal conspiracy with a foreign government to subvert the 2016 presidential election in his favor.

And second, even if Trump were impeached and removed, President Mike Pence would probably go ahead with the Gorsuch nomination.
 
 
+4 # madame de farge 2017-03-21 09:28
The UK is also the only place where the Fascism Forever story is in the news... That Gorsuch at his Jesuit Prep School started that club in 1980, less than 40 years after WW2 and it was JUST A JOKE,,,,but that joke lasted FOUR years....
 
 
-1 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2017-03-21 14:49
Quoting madame de farge:
The UK is also the only place where the Fascism Forever story is in the news... That Gorsuch at his Jesuit Prep School started that club in 1980...
This story has no journalistic integrity. It would be in Breitbart News if it were about Merrick Garland starting a joke club in high school called "Communism Forever".
 
 
+8 # reiverpacific 2017-03-21 11:46
Quoting chapdrum:
Curious why this appeared in a UK publication, instead of US.
That aside, if Trump and campaign officials' collusion is proven, why wouldn't that moot Gorsuch's nomination?


Not really a surprise.
If you look at the source before reading any given article on RSN, a goodly % are by "The Guardian", which publishes "controversial" (by US censored standards) correspondence that the US owner-media wouldn't touch with surgical gloves, so intertwined are they with the corrupt government.
 
 
-10 # chapdrum 2017-03-20 17:41
P.S. The Supreme Court has endured Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Roberts - one more sh*theel won't make a difference.
 
 
+6 # librarian1984 2017-03-21 12:17
It matters when the sh*theels vote as a bloc.

Obama should have nominated a progressive and Democrats should have done whatever was necessary to force a vote.

Trump could have nominated Merrick Garland, who is a basically a moderate Republican, and if he truly wanted unity he would have nominated Garland.

Watching the hearings one is struck by Gorsuch's pleasant manner. Conservatives know what plays. They just don't intend to follow through with reason. This guy is toxic and should not be approved.

Democrats should fight him tooth and nail, otherwise they are complicit, as they have been so often in the past.
 
 
-2 # swissms 2017-03-21 16:07
You are wrong.
 
 
+16 # suzyskier 2017-03-20 18:05
I just feel like giving up sometimes. We have this slimmy So called President and a party willing to approach fascism to gain power. It's horrific how things have changed in such a short amount of time. What has happened to the GOP ? They are unrecognizable. Their quest for power is insatiable!
 
 
+6 # madame de farge 2017-03-21 09:24
Nope, their quest is for Tax Cuts...and kill the government because they should not interfere with things like Love Canal and Asbestos... The little people are just that in the Strict Father hierarchy, in that hierarchy, the Rich Rule the Poor...
 
 
+2 # Robbee 2017-03-21 17:34
Quoting madame de farge:
Nope, their quest is for Tax Cuts...and kill the government because they should not interfere with things

- don't fall for the myth that neocons want to drown gov't in a tub - neocons crave to rule the planet as its only superpower - it is taxes on us 90% that fuels all neocon ambition
 
 
+5 # librarian1984 2017-03-21 12:38
I don't think it HAS been a short time. These things have been building a long time. Reagan and his people started many harmful policies. Pat Robertson's speech announcing the influence of the religious right was a focal point too. Bill Clinton's capitulation to corporate influence meant there was no longer an opposition party. SCOTUS decisions in Bush v Gore, that corporations are people and Citizens United codified corruption. Koch money and organized conservatism have tentacled their way into every institution -- the courts, state houses and national government.

It is tempting to despair and give up but the stakes are too high. We DO have some advantages. First we are right. Most Americans agree with us on the issues. Secondly, we have Bernie Sanders, the most popular politician in the nation. Thirdly, we have the energetic, bright young people on our side. They're not as tired as we are ;-) Also, we have social media, a resource that wasn't available to generations of activists before us. It seems we can count on some members of the judiciary. We do outnumber the villains.

I understand your despair but please don't give up hope. Things will change for the better eventually. If you look at history even the most horrific times come to an end, and the more each of us participates the sooner it will happen.

We need whistleblowers. We need to organize. We need to convince Independents and non-voters .. we need better politicians.
 
 
+4 # swissms 2017-03-21 17:03
So is the Democratic Party. Where are their balls? Why are they not simply filibustering any nominee to the Supreme Court who isn't balanced in his/her positions? And how is it that they just let this team committed to bringing down the federal government simply waltz right through the confirmation process!? There were plenty of warning signs, including that the candidates hadn't even been vetted. And yet, their nominations went right through. The whole lot of legislators must be bought, cuz they certainly aren't looking out after us!
 
 
+5 # Allanfearn 2017-03-20 18:26
It's all right, really - your President assures the citizens of Kentucky that the learned judge has a wonderful wife.
 
 
+1 # madame de farge 2017-03-21 09:26
and Trump KNOWS that HOW.... the good people of Kentucky read their bibles and there is such a thing as knowing a woman...
 
 
+5 # futhark 2017-03-20 18:46
The one hopeful thing I see in the Trump train to political, social, economic and ecological is that it is so far off the tracks that there is serious doubt it can survive for four years and, if it does, it has almost certainly sown the seeds of its total and utter destruction.
 
 
+12 # economagic 2017-03-20 18:55
Neither the Republican misleaders nor their monkey give a tinker's damn about legitimacy or about governing. Their only concern is to rule despotically in perpetuity.
 
 
+2 # Femihumanist 2017-03-20 20:24
I still don't know what Russia supposedly did in regard to our elections.
 
 
0 # swissms 2017-03-21 16:58
What is finally surfacing is that Russians posted a deluge of fake news to bolster Trump after each revelation that threatened to bring him down during the campaign. So, yeah, they messed with the elections, but such a fake news campaign could just as easily have originated right here in the rightwing think tanks of Amerika. And from what I see, it already has. So, one more wake up call to remind us that this democratic republic is on the way down. The effect of biased or even fake news in polarizing this country has been considerable. When the news you hear every day has no point of intersection with the news your neighbor hears, how are you going to have any kind of reasonable political discussion anymore? And short of going back to "state news", I have no idea how to rectify the situation.
 
 
-3 # Robbee 2017-03-21 17:39
Quoting Femihumanist:
I still don't know what Russia supposedly did in regard to our elections.

- rip van Femihumanist?
 
 
+5 # REDPILLED 2017-03-20 21:23
First of all, where is the actual EVIDENCE (not allegations or assessments) of Russian "involvement" in the 2016 election? See these:

Key Democratic Officials Now Warning Base Not to Expect Evidence of Trump/Russia Collusion
https://theintercept.com/2017/03/16/key-democratic-officials-now-warning-base-not-to-expect-evidence-of-trumprussia-collusion/

The Democrats' Anti-Russia Campaign Falls Apart (Updated)
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/03/the-democrats-anti-russia-campaign-falls-apart.html

Dermokratiya, USA
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/03/russia-us-clinton-boris-yeltsin-elections-interference-trump/

The Missing Logic of Russia-gate
https://consortiumnews.com/2017/03/20/the-missing-logic-of-russia-gate/

NYT’s ‘Tinfoil Hat’ Conspiracy Theory
https://consortiumnews.com/2017/03/19/nyts-tinfoil-hat-conspiracy-theory/

Second, the Supreme Court has been delegitimized since the 2010 Citizens United decision. That slippery slope started with the abysmal, absurd 1886 Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad decision which supposedly declared that corporations had the same rights as human beings.

That 1886 decision was further worsened by the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision which declared that money equaled speech.
 
 
+6 # librarian1984 2017-03-21 12:10
Great post and links, thanks. But I would say SCOTUS lost a lot of credibility with the Bush v Gore decision of 1999.

I believe it's the only decision Justice O'Connor publicly said she regretted.

There seems to be a pattern emerging:

Progressives try to maintain reason and talk sense.
Progressives are attacked and vilified -- by Democrats.
Progressives are proved right.
Repeat.
 
 
+1 # Saberoff 2017-03-20 22:39
Agreed, Senator!
 
 
+1 # swissms 2017-03-21 16:15
Two comments: 1) How do you suggest that we get our Senate to agree to a consensus candidate? We can't even get our Democrats to demand one. Where is the justified rage? Where is the filibuster? Do the Democrats really not understand that the public would be behind them? And that brings me to 2) Senator Feingold, why did you not trust the people to crowd fund the recount that should have won you the Senate seat in your State? I am so disappointed that you misread the situation. This is a coup that is destroying our country, and you capitulated!
 
 
+7 # allanmillard 2017-03-20 23:02
Mr. Feingold makes one valid point,viz. that there is no connection between the too-silly-for-w ords "Russian" molehill and the appointment to the SCOTUS. Yes, what the Republicans did to the Garland nomination was reprehensible, but I submit that both wings of the USian one-party rule bear almost equal responsibility over the years for bringing the SCOTUS into disrepute both at home and abroad. Sitting in another Common Law jurisdiction I think I can safely say that other jurisdictions do not look to your Supreme Court for well-reasoned jurisprudence.

There are some fine legal minds in the SCOTUS, no doubt, but it has the reputation of being excessively partisan, and that did not start only when GWB was put into office by 5 people. (Some democracy that!) The Feingold whine does not come close to touching the fundamental issue, which seems to me to be that the moneyed interests, or the M-I-C, control all three branches of your government.

The much-vaunted "democracy" is a patina. It would have been more than that with a President Sanders.
 
 
+16 # librarian1984 2017-03-20 23:08
I agree. We should not let Gorsuch through. Some Dems are already saying we should let him go because the next one might be worse, or McConnell might implement the nuclear option blah blah.

These guys just sit around thinking up ways to surrender.

To paraphrase Gandalf: He should not pass!
 
 
+2 # RLF 2017-03-21 06:14
Republican senators suggested they would let a president Clinton put anyone on the court...what's good for the goose is good for the gander...no apointments for the Cheeto!
 
 
+14 # Elroys 2017-03-21 09:29
This is the wet dream of the Repub party for decades - complete take-over of our government on behalf of "free market fundamentalists " (money and greed rule), drown government in the bathtub, and let 'er rip. Screw the common folks - accomplish this is any way necessary, we'll make our own rules.
This is what is happening. There are enough un-informed, uneducated and non-critical thinking people who listened to a con man selling snake oil (Trump) and voted for a madman to "govern" America and have his finger on the nuclear button.
Greed, corruption and ignorance have taken over our nation. Now we just have to work harder to take it back for our kids.
 

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