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The Death of Democracy

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

The passing of liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has thrown the election into turmoil. Prior to this tragic event, the major issues were the pandemic and civil unrest epitomized by the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Now, a primary issue will be the selection of a new justice for the highest court in the land and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has already gone on record as stating he will definitely hold hearings to support whoever Donald Trump nominates. And Trump himself is stating he wants to fill the vacancy “without delay” telling Republicans they are obligated to complete the process, even though an election is a mere month-and-a-half away.

This is a direct contradiction to the Republican stance just four years ago when McConnell refused to even consider the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland by then President Obama, citing what he called The “Biden Rule” when then Senator Joe Biden said that it should be up to the incoming president to name the next occupant to the Supreme Court. While this had no force of law, McConnell cited it as precedent to prevent Garland’a nomination.

Now that there is a vacancy and it’s an election year, McConnell wants to abandon this process and push through yet another conservative Justice before the people have a chance to decide who will be the next occupant of the Oval Office. Failing in that, if Trump were to lose the election, McConnell would then proceed to force a hearing during the lame duck session of Congress, should Republicans lose control of the Senate in the November elections.

To allow such a travesty would be the death of Democracy in America.

Indeed there are four Republican senators, Lindsey Graham (SC), Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK) and Chuck Grassley (IA), have all gone on record as opposing a Supreme Court appointment during an election year. Lindsey Graham even remarked that, regardless of party, a Supreme Court Justice should not be confirmed in the last year of a president’s first term, and even dared people to “use my own words against me”. (Video above).

While Grassley and Murkowski have stated they will follow McConnell’s 2016 pledge, Graham and Collins, both who are in tight election races, gave mixed messages on whether or not they would honor their word. It isn’t shocking that Graham has reneged on the promise he made in 2016. He has been an ardent Trump supporter since the passing of his friend, Senator John McCain. Graham is now on record in stating he would vote for Trump’s choice for the bench – and, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he is in a powerful position to determine the course of events.

As for Senator Collins, she is currently saying that she will support whoever “is elected on November 3rd”. This carefully parsed response gives Collins an out because it is unlikely there will be a final decision on Election Day, so if Trump is leading on that day, which is possible due to the large number of Democrats voting via absentee ballots, Collins can claim she is being true to her word.

In past Supreme Court hearings, Collins hinted at opposition to Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment, only to backtrack on her stance when it came to a vote.

Grassley and Murkowski aren’t facing such pressures, so they can vote their respective consciences. However, their opposition will still not be enough to prevent another conservative justice from taking a lifetime appointment.

To prevent a Supreme Court nomination, since the vote will go along party lines, four Republicans need to vote against it. Sen. Mitt Romney(R-UT cast the lone Republican vote for Trump’s conviction during his impeachment “trial”, so, it’s possible he could once again cross party lines to oppose the nomination.

In any other year, the appointment of a conservative to the Supreme Court would be something that Democrats would fight. Conservative justices are strict Constitutionalists, believing that the Founding Fathers foresaw every eventuality. Since abortion isn’t mentioned in the Constitution, it MUST be unconstitutional, if you were to follow this logic. Likewise, the “right to bear arms” is explicitly expressed, even though the Founding Fathers had no way to predict the types of firearms currently available, which is why conservatives see this sacrosanct in protecting this right.

While that is an oversimplification of the differences between the different ideologies, it can help to explain why Democrats, and liberal justices who see the Constitution as a fluid document that changes to meet the times, oppose their Conservative counterparts. It is also why rulings made at one time are overturned later when the composition of the Supreme Court changes.

But, that’s just in normal times.

It’s quite obvious that these are not “normal times”. With an election looming and Donald Trump already taking steps to invalidate the results if he loses, it may come down to the Supreme Court to determine the outcome, just as it was forced to do during the hotly contested 2000 election. With an extra conservative justice, Trump may indeed feel empowered to fight any election results, depending on the loyalty of those he appointed to the bench to return a decision in his favor.

This would mark the end of democracy. Instead of having a leader chosen by the people, or their chosen representatives in the Electoral College, Trump could possibly remain in office due to a judicial decision.

Trump has always demanded loyalty, even from those employed by the federal government. He would obviously have the same expectation of those he put on the Supreme Court. He would expect they would hand him a second, and possibly third term, using his own warped logic.

This is why there needs to be a public outcry the likes of which has never been seen. We need to insist the will of the voters will decide who gets on the bench, the same way Republicans demanded the same in 2016. We cannot allow this hypocrisy to stand!

November 3.

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