Thursday, February 25, 2016

Slate: Issac Chotiner- 'Nightmare Scenarios for the Supreme Court'

Source:Slate Magazine- "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the U.S. Capitol, Dec. 15, 2015 in Washington, D.C." From Slate Magazine.
Source:The New Democrat 

"In light of the coming battle in the Senate over Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Antonin Scalia, I called Norm Ornstein, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, an expert on the workings of Congress, and the co-author of It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How The American Constitutional System Collided With The New Politics of Extremism.

We discussed the future of the Supreme Court, the different types of obstructionism practiced by Republicans and Democrats, and the nightmare scenarios (another court packing!) that could be in our future. The conversation has been edited and condensed.

Isaac Chotiner: Is the Republican demand that the next president, rather than Obama, appoint a replacement for Scalia really that different from other forms of obstruction we have seen from both parties?" 

"President Obama responds to Senate Republicans' claims that there will be no confirmation hearings on his Supreme Court nominee. CNN's Michelle Kosinski reports." 

Source:CNN- President Barack H. Obama (Democrat, Illinois) 44th President of the United States.

From CNN

I would love to say I’m even surprised to see Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and Chairman Chuck Grassley and their flat-out obstructionism when to comes to filling Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. But I’m not, not even mildly so. I would be lying to the point that I was claiming I was Jesus, Moses and Karl Marx, all in the same person if I said I was surprised by the latest Congressional Republican obstructionism when it comes to President Obama’s appointments or when it comes to policy. I mean, it started in the early days of 111th Congress when Barack Obama just became President and then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gave a speech at I believe the Heritage Foundation and said his number one priority was to see that Barack Obama was a one term President.

But having said that lets get to the latest Congressional Republican obstructionism and again in the Senate where it started in 2009. And now it looks like the Republican Party is on a duel suicide trip with Donald Trump as their presumed presidential nominee and the Senate Republicans going into the spring and summer in a very hot and humid Washington (assuming this is a normal year) saying no to any Supreme Court nominee in 2016. Even if that person is one of their current colleagues in the Senate, or in their party like with Governor Brian Sandoval, who is a popular moderate Governor of Nevada. Who looks like a Bernie Sanders Far-Lefty compared with the Tea Party and the Far-Right in the GOP right now. But hardly any Liberal let alone a Bernie Sanders Socialist. Because the Senate GOP says that the President is a lame duck even though he has eleven months left on his current term.

I remember the 2012 presidential election. I voted and remember President Obama getting reelected overwhelmingly by five-million votes in the popular vote and roughly 320 votes in the Electoral College. I also remember my social studies classes in high school and remembering that the President of the United States serves four-year terms and no more than two. So this idea the President is a lame duck when he still has a year left on his second term just doesn’t hold. 

Imagine a baseball player singing a four-year contract and going into the spring training of his fourth year with his team and he says: "You know what, three years is enough. I’m not going to resign with you next year anyway. I’m just going to take the fourth year off. And oh by the way you have to pay me, because I signed a four-year contract." Even though the player is healthy. How would the general manager of the club react? He would probably tell the player: "You better show up and play, or you’re not going to get paid."

And as far as presidential Supreme Court appointments not getting voted on in an election year: Anthony Kennedy now Justice Kennedy was approved in 1988 by a Democratic Senate with a solid vote. Democratic Justice Thurgood Marshall was replaced by Republican Clarence Thomas in 1991. They were as far apart ideologically and had as little in common politically as country music fans have with hip-hop fans. And yet the Democratic Senate approved the Thomas appointment to replace Justice Marshall with a handful of Democratic Senators voting for Thomas. Which is what President Bush and the Senate Republican Leadership had to have to get Clarence Thomas through. There is no precedent for Senate Republican to sit on their asses for a year and not act on President Obama’s Supreme Court appointment. Which should be available by the early spring.

On a lighter note: imagine what the Republican Party in Washington looks like in lets say June and July. Donald Trump is their overwhelming nominee for president: the Joe McCarthy/Pat Buchanan of the Baby Boom Generation. A man claiming that Muslins don’t legally get Freedom of Religion protections and Mosques are not houses of worship. Who says he can deport eleven-million Latinos with the stroke of a pen. Who says Mexico will pay for the wall on the American-Mexican border. That women are property and that Americans don’t have right to speak out against him and I could go on, but it could get worst. And I don’t want to get stuck with someone future mental health bills, because they became depressed after reading this about The Donald. But it just gets worst, because now the GOP has The Donald and a Republican Senate sitting on their asses over a more than qualified Supreme Court nominee who got 90 plus votes to serve on the lower court.

If you’re familiar with Washington in the summer you know that it’s a hot humid place. Where we only get rain generally in between heat waves and our summers tend to start in May and go through September and sometimes even October. But with all the hot air that we simply get from Mother Nature, is a warm day at the North Pole compared with all the heat and humidity that comes from Congress alone. Especially in the Senate with the cloture rule where Senators at any time can speak until they have to go to the bathroom or fall asleep standing up. 

It’s going to be a hellish summer for the GOP and bad enough if all they have is an anti-civil liberties, anti-free speech, anti-immigrant and anti-Latino and Muslim fascist as their presidential nominee. How they deal with that plus with their twenty-four Senate seats that are up for reelection with perhaps as many as half of them in play and half of those favored to go to the Democrats. And they have to run with The Donald and try to defend in Democratic and swing states their leadership’s obstructionism over a clearly qualified Supreme Court nominee to their constituents. This will be a year to remember and forget for the GOP.

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