Thursday, February 2, 2017 at 5:42 AM

Nomination of Gorsuch to Supreme Court Affirms Politicization of Judiciary

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Constitutionally, the US government is composed of three co-equal branches. Yet one of those branches, the Judicial, has become little more than a mantelpiece.

After all, Republicans and Democrats now routinely adorn it in their partisan image, respectively. And both parties seem to think that winning control of either or both of the other two branches, the Executive and Legislative, entitles them to do so.

Only this sense of entitlement explains the Republican-controlled Senate refusing even to give President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, a hearing last year. And only resentment over it explains Democratic senators using all kinds of parliamentary maneuvers to block confirmation of President Trump’s nominee, Neil Gorsuch, today.

In a sign that Democrats were immediately ramping up resistance, Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and several colleagues declared that Gorsuch would need to earn at least 60 votes to clear procedural hurdles to earn a final confirmation vote. Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate. …

Gorsuch’s fate rests especially with Democrats including Sen. Jeff Merkley (Ore.), who suggested in recent days that he would try to mount a filibuster as payback to Republicans who blocked former president Barack Obama’s final Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, for almost the entirety of 2016.

‘This is a stolen seat,’ Merkley said in a statement Tuesday night.

(Washington Post, January 31, 2017)

But here is how I admonished years ago that it would come to this:

Neither this decision, nor its breakdown along partisan lines, should surprise anyone who knows anything about the ‘politics’ (as opposed to the legal reasoning and judicial precedents) that guide this Court’s rulings. For the one thing that distinguishes this Court is that the justices Republican presidents nominated invariably vote on the side of issues that affirms conservative ideology; whereas those Democratic presidents nominated invariably vote on the side that affirms liberal ideology.

(“Supreme Court Rules Voter ID Laws OK,” The iPINIONS Journal, October 18, 2014)

Hence this abiding contention:

Conservatives and liberals on the Supreme Court have devolved into little more than glorified hired guns for the Republican Party and Democratic Party, respectively. This is why Republicans will consider it an article of faith to obstruct confirmation of any Obama nominee. After all, if appointed, this justice would tip the balance of the Court towards affirming Democratic (aka liberal) politics.

(“Antonin Scalia, Pugnacious Justice of the US Supreme Court, Is Dead,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 14, 2016)

Meanwhile, this is just the latest front in the political warfare Republicans and Democrats are now waging, which is beginning to ape the religious warfare Sunnis and Shias have been waging for over a thousand years. And I fully appreciate the cycle of vengeance that is motivating Democrats to do to Trump’s nominee what Republicans did to Obama’s.

But I urge Democrats to refrain from triggering the “nuclear option” on rules that maintain the last vestiges of congressional civility. Not least because, as Scalia’s replacement, Gorsuch will not tip the balance of the Court to their disadvantage; and no amount of maneuvering will prevent Republicans from confirming him on a party-line vote, which is how Congress resolves almost every issue these days. Not to mention that, his right-wing ideology aside, he is eminently qualified.

Instead, they should highlight the unprecedented Republican hypocrisy afoot and subject Gorsuch to enhanced interrogation during his Senate hearing. They should then put this hypocrisy in their growing arsenal of outrages to launch as clarion calls to get Democrats to the polls in the next congressional and presidential election.

All else is just a perpetuation of the dysfunctional folly that now characterizes politics in Washington.

NOTE: Trump seems intent on playing Black History Month as if he’s the first president to pay any homage to black American heritage. However, as with the Trumpasites who elected him, I am more troubled by the black useful idiots who seem all too happy to play along. 

After all, Trump is patently interested only in exploiting black history for his own self-aggrandizement. Not to mention his unforgivable racial slurs against the first black president of the United States. Most know about his birther nonsense, but he also propagated the racist hope that, after Obama, America will never elect another black president again. This provoked my commentary, “Trump: No More Black Presidents,” August 3, 2015.

Related commentaries:
voter ID
Scalia
Stupid voters
No more black presidents
Why I hate twitter

* This commentary was originally published yesterday at 3:09 p.m.

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