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McConnell haunts Democrats with new pledge to block Biden’s court candidate

The Senate Minority Leader, whose dubious maneuvers to tip the Supreme Court to the far right still haunt the Liberals, has just presented a new plan to strengthen Tory judicial supremacy on the nation’s top bench for years to come , with widespread consequences for all three branches of government.

“I think it’s highly unlikely,” McConnell said when asked on Hugh Hewitt’s conservative radio show if Biden would get a pick. In fact, the powerful Kentucky player hasn’t even guaranteed that he will allow confirmation of a Biden candidate in 2023 either.

McConnell returns to his self-invented principle – which is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution – that at some point in their term a president is no longer entitled to sit as a candidate for the Supreme Court. The then Senate Majority Leader used this ruse to thwart President Barack Obama’s choice, Merrick Garland, for eight months before the 2016 election. But with a Republican, Donald Trump, in the White House in 2020 , he forced Amy Coney Barrett to go to court. eight days before the election – after hypocritically discovering an exception to its own rule that applied if the Senate and the White House were in the hands of the same party.

A warning sign for Democrats

As his comments on Monday leaned on that story, McConnell sent a warning to Democrats who were already struggling to regroup to adopt Biden’s freshman agenda that collapsed over difficult calculations in the Senate.

Indeed, he set a timer for when Democrats could lose their short window on congressional power in the 2024 election. And with the kind of cynical clarity that only an expert and ruthless political operator can muster, he stressed how high the stakes are next year.

Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon has warned that McConnell’s warning raised the specter of another theft of a Supreme Court seat.

“The damage done to the court is enormous, it’s turning into… a partisan war. He’s put it on steroids, it’s an order of magnitude more intense now,” Merkley said on “Cuomo Prime Time”.

“What can we do? Well, we can make sure McConnell won’t be in the majority in 23 and 24 because… when he was in the majority he already played that game and his party rewarded him for it.”

In retrospect, McConnell’s blockade of Garland in 2016 was one of the first maneuvers in what has become a consistent pattern of Republican attacks on Washington standards by the GOP.

While not a Trump fan, McConnell’s goal is still the capture or preservation of power. His recent refusal to allow the Senate to establish an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan.6 insurgency shows just how ready he is to appease the Trump base to that end. But it’s also the kind of behavior that causes U.S. allies abroad to worry about the continued erosion of U.S. constitutional safeguards, even as Biden scours Europe to warn that democracy is under siege abroad.

McConnell’s invocation of his spoiler move against Garland also struck an ironic note on Monday. The former judge would have been on the bench for more than five years now without the action of the Minority Leader. Instead, he was selected by Biden to be attorney general and now faces a political storm over the Trump administration’s apparent use of the Department of Justice to target a list of enemies that includes a member of Congress. Democrat and media organizations, including CNN. These abuses were among those encouraged by McConnell’s GOP failure to subdue Trump.

Democrats await Breyer

In the coming days, McConnell’s Machiavellian intervention is sure to fuel speculation among Democrats over the timing of Liberal Judge Stephen Breyer’s possible retirement.

If Democrats can’t replace Breyer, 82, in court this year or next when they have the lowest possible margin in the Senate, they risk a Tory 7-2 majority if future elections go. in the GOP sense and that Breyer ultimately leaves the court. It would mean decades of right-wing jurisprudence, no matter what voters want.

McConnell haunts Democrats with new pledge to block Biden’s court candidate

Nervousness over Breyer’s intentions was already at a high level in Washington as the end of the Supreme Court’s current term neared, when some previous justices retired.

On CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday, Progressive Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said she believed given the circumstances, Breyer should make her exit. “I would probably go for yes,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s Dana Bash.

Speculating on the future of a Supreme Court justice is a sensitive matter and of questionable taste given Breyer’s age – though there are no signs that he is in poor health. In the rarefied marble halls of the building housing the country’s tallest bench, such remarks can also offend and backfire – one of the reasons many Democrats tiptoe the issue in public.

But it’s no exaggeration to say that the death in power of liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg shortly before Trump lost the election was a disaster for the liberals and fundamentally reshaped the nation. Democrats are desperate the same thing won’t happen again, one of the reasons they are hoping Breyer retires when Biden still has a good chance of replacing him. It would not be a sure thing in a 50-50 Senate. But a candidate for Biden should cringe.

Playing the long term in the medium term

Most political strategists believe McConnell’s work to keep a Supreme Court seat open in 2016 helped galvanize social-conservative participation around Trump, despite his long-standing lack of support for such causes and a life. eventful personal.

It’s possible that this time, McConnell’s sting could be used to ignite Democratic activists and stoke liberal participation midway through. It is curious, however, that the Supreme Court never seemed to motivate progressives in elections in the same way that it brought the Tories to the polls. Maybe a Conservative majority for years to come will change that.

Another result of McConnell’s lightning rod comments may be to ignite Democratic angst and perhaps deepen latent conflicts between the party’s progressives and moderates, which is already hampering hopes for Biden’s agenda.

His warning is already fueling Liberal concerns about the president’s attempts to strike a bipartisan infrastructure deal well below his original specifications.

After all, it will be difficult for the Liberals to strike a deal with Republicans whose leader is not only plotting to derail his presidency, but who is showing his hand in yet another attempt to reshape the Supreme Court.

Renewing the debate on obstruction

Comments from the Senate Minority Leader also add new impetus to vocal but so far foiled attempts by the Liberals to convince moderate Democrats to abolish Senate rules on 60-vote obstruction that allow McConnell to use his minority to thwart Biden’s ambitious legislative plans.

“Senator McConnell is determined to protect the broken status quo that preserves his power and benefits his special interest allies,” said Eli Zupnick, spokesperson for Fix Our Senate, a coalition of groups seeking to reform the chamber.

“This is just one more reminder that filibuster must be removed as a partisan weapon that Senator McConnell can use to continue his traffic jam and obstruction.”

The most fascinating thing about McConnell’s interview with Hewitt was that the longtime senator spoke as if he was the one in power, rather than Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. But in a sense it is, given the weight given to the minority in the Senate by filibuster.

Many Democrats fear that if they don’t remove the need for a 60-vote qualified majority to pass their platform, McConnell will do so in a future GOP Senate to pass a right-wing wishlist of gun laws , abortion and tax reform if the GOP also controls the house.

But he insisted he was committed to Senate traditions.

“It requires us to have a majority of 60 votes to do it. This is how the Senate has worked for quite a long time. President Trump wanted me to get rid of it, and I said politely, ‘No, we aren’t gonna do that, ”McConnell told Hewitt.

Such respect for the Senate is seen by many critics of McConnell as conflicting with his handling of Supreme Court candidates. After all, McConnell responded to Democrats clearing the obstruction of judges by applying the exception to Supreme Court justices. This decision as majority leader in 2017 paved the way for what will likely be his most enduring legacy – a conservative Supreme Court that endures for years.

For such a price, he will gladly endure endless liberal condemnation.


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