STATUS QUO JUSTICE

Posted in Quick Hits on January 31st, 2017 by Ed

Tuesday's Supreme Court appointment appears to have the Court picking up where it left off before Scalia died. Gorsuch, according to judicial politics researchers I trust, is basically Scalia. Some sources claim he is more conservative than Scalia, a distinction which, if even humanly possible, should make very little practical difference. The only way to make the data show that anyone is more conservative than Scalia is to include that justice's votes from the 80s and up to the mid-90s, before he lapsed into complete self parody. It was as if he laid down a track record for a few years of writing well thought out opinions and then, figuring he'd done enough, took off his suit, relaxed in some sweat pants, and let his inner asshole take over. In his last decade he was everything his critics always claimed he was, and worse. This is the man who pontificated about Strict Constructionalism and then, when same sex marriage was on the docket, started babbling about the ancient Babylonians and "judeo-christian tradition." Yeah, that must be in Article Give Me a Break.

Essentially, the GOP took an enormous risk when Scalia died and it paid off. It was risky because at the time, the prospects of any of the Republican field winning the White House seemed very slim. And they knew the option in front of them, Merrick Garland, was likely a better pick than whoever they would get out of a president Hillary Clinton. They also gambled (wisely) that literally any form of obstructionism and hypocrisy is OK if Republicans do it, because they do it to like, protect Freedom from the totalitarianism of moderate centrist Democratic presidents.

Senate Democrats appear to have zero will to fight this in a meaningful way. I'm not sure what it's going to take to get through to those people, but right now they're failing to grasp that the only rational response to this disaster is to bring the Senate to a grinding halt and oppose everything – which, coincidentally, is exactly what Republicans in the Senate did for six years while Obama was around doing things that were usually routine and, at their top dollar best, qualified as mildly interesting.

I've never been a "Let's take to the streets!" person. I dislike being in large mobs of people. But with the Senate Democrats ready to lie down for Gorsuch – who, it should be noted, is 49 and we will be stuck with him for probably three decades – I suppose the only useful course of action is to try to scare them the same way GOP incumbents are terrified of their base.