Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.
Ever since they stole a Supreme Court seat from President Barack Obama in 2016 by refusing to even give Merrick Garland a hearing, Senate Republicans have been running roughshod over democratic norms in order to pack the courts with hard-right conservative ideologues.
Recently, of course, they jammed through the nomination of accused sexual predator and right-wing hack Brett Kavanaugh — even though most Americans opposed his confirmation, and even though his vicious partisanship caused more than 2,400 law professors to oppose him.
But while the Supreme Court gets the most attention, Republicans are also pulling dirty tricks when it comes to lower court nominees — and that could do just as much damage to democracy and equal rights, if not more, than packing the highest court.
On Wednesday, Politico reports, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee did something almost unheard of. They met when the Senate wasn’t even in session, which meant most senators had already left town and no Democrats were around to object.
And at that meeting, GOP senators unilaterally advanced the nominations of a half-dozen of Trump’s judicial nominees — including some of his most extreme and most unqualified picks.
One of these nominees is 36-year-old Allison Rushing, a former clerk to far-right conservatives Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch. As Politico notes, she isn’t even admitted to the bar in her home state of North Carolina, “and her nine years’ experience falls short of the 12 years typically sought by the American Bar Association before they can provide ratings of nominees.”
Yet with a lifetime appointment to the Fourth Circuit, she could serve “for perhaps 40 or 50 years given her youth.”
Republicans even had the gall to claim that the committee’s minority leader, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), had approved of this shady deal.
They were lying, of course. A Feinstein spokeswoman told Politico that “she had given no such approval to move ahead on a ‘controversial’ nomination hearing during a Senate recess.”
Senate Majority Leader and professional craven hypocrite Mitch McConnell has been at this for years. It wasn’t just Garland, Politico notes — McConnell led Republicans in blocking as many of President Obama’s judicial nominees as they could, only to turn around and confirm Trump’s at a record pace:
Republicans spent the second half of Obama’s presidency delaying many of the Democrats’ nominees when they were in the minority and then blocking dozens of them outright once they got the majority in 2015. Now that Trump is president, they have smashed down on the accelerator: The GOP has confirmed two Supreme Court justices and 29 Circuit Court nominees and 53 District Court nominees in fewer than two years. During Obama’s first two years in office, Democrats — who held majorities in both houses — confirmed 62 federal judges.
Since most Americans actually oppose the extreme policies Republicans want, the party has known for a long time now that it can’t rely on democracy to advance its agenda.
That’s why the GOP has resorted to dirty tricks like gerrymandering and voter suppression. And it’s why conservatives have spent decades laying the groundwork to take over the federal judiciary — so that right-wing hacks can strike down the reforms that most Americans want.
Published with permission of The American Independent.