Much of the point of the Republican alliance with Donald Trump was to establish control over the federal judiciary as a whole and the Supreme Court in particular. The deal was simple: Republicans would support him and his agenda, such as it was. He would nominate a cadre of reliably conservative judges, handpicked by the Federalist Society and backed by groups like the Judicial Crisis Network, to lifetime positions on the federal bench, where they would write conservative ideology into the Constitution under the cover of an “originalism” that conveniently and consistently aligns with Republican Party political preferences.
That’s why they are desperate to elevate Amy Coney Barrett, whose confirmation would give Republicans a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court. She represents victory, the culmination of a generational struggle to reshape the courts in their favor. From the point of view of Mitch McConnell and his conservative activist allies, she is worth losing the White House and risking the Senate for. She is worth the chaos and disorder of the Trump administration, worth the scandal and controversy, worth the racism, cruelty and indifference to human life. She is worth his botched response to the pandemic, worth the death and deprivation that has followed from his refusal to govern the country and attend to the welfare of its people.
Or rather, she will have been worth it, if Democrats win the White House, win the Senate and leave the judicial status quo untouched. If they do nothing, then Trump, McConnell and the Republican Party will have gotten away with nearly wrecking constitutional democracy — and inflicting needless suffering on millions of Americans — for the sake of ideology, partisanship and venal self-interest. What’s more, by refusing to act, Democrats will have crippled any agenda they had hoped to accomplish.
To allow the American people to govern themselves, to rein in the judiciary and break a would-be reactionary super-legislature — to show Republicans that they cannot keep the ill-gotten gains of the Trump years — Democrats will need to expand the courts. [Continue reading…]