Various thoughts on current events with an emphasis on politics, legal issues, books, movies and whatever is on my mind. Emails can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org; please put "blog comments" in the subject line.
The Honorable Neil M. Gorsuch will be sworn in as the 101st Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on Monday, April 10. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., will administer the Constitutional Oath in a private ceremony at 9 a.m. in the Justices' Conference Room at the Supreme Court. Later that morning, Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy will administer the Judicial Oath at a public ceremony at the White House.
Yes, it is appropriate the person who got his job in part because of Bush v. Gore and who swore in Trump (Roberts) and Gorsuch's former boss (AMK, who Trump has a back channel to via their kids) are involved. People like myself will just swear.
Last year, though given his age and probable general health shouldn't really have been, was a tad shocked to hear that Scalia died Figured it would be that for the first time in my LIFETIME (early 1970s) that there would be a 5-4 leaning Court my way. Ha ha ha!!! As President Obama noted last year, for democracy's sake, Garland deserved a hearing and vote. He was a compromise pick that many on the left was wary about, but Republicans repeatedly praised. Blocking him without a hearing and replacing him with a Heritage Foundation wet dream (it is insulting to claim liberals should think him reasonable, all things considered, given how much support he got from the usual suspects -- are we morons?) led to "nuclear" option.*
It is b.s. how some are STILL making this about the Democrats not pulling back or even tossing in some "both sides do" it crap. The tears about how this is the "end of the Senate" (calm down -- looks like it is still there) etc. in part relies of pipe dreams of future actions of "moderate" Republicans. They did nothing to stop us from getting this point, one that was quite predictable. Did they expect yet again the Democrats to be the "serious" party? The government party? The Senate is split 52-48. It might be a bit less narrowly so after 2018 (still, I'll take that the other way!) But, senators like McCain whine about how horrible things are and do nearly nothign substantive, when it counts, to stop it! It's nauseating.
A reasonable (no snark -- these days, every use of quotation marks etc. seems to be) sort just wrote an op-ed decrying the end of the filibuster for justices and predicting things will get more extreme soon enough. Personally, though the undemocratic (small "d" -- those against cloture here represent a majority of the country and that isn't even the whole Democratic caucus) nature of the Senate troubles me, the concept of a filibuster is not horrible. Think on a small scale basis, a group of friends. There is a desire to have a consensus, not just decide things by a majority vote. If a small number are strongly against, you might be inclined to try to compromise. But, there needs to be reasonableness here.
In 2013, it was the Democrats who opened the door to the so-called nuclear option by eliminating the filibuster for non-Supreme-Court nominees.
This was used to show that it wasn't all the Republicans' doing yesterday. WHY did the Democrats (glad it isn't just "Harry Reid") do that? Well, the ultimate cause was Republicans blocking three D.C. Circuit judges, a primary "extraordinary circumstance" being that Obama appointed them and it was felt that there were enough judges there anyhow. Right. This wasn't the first time the old "extraordinary circumstances" test of the Gang of 14 was applied rather broadly. A honest accounting NOTES this!
This is not a partisan argument. The Affordable Care Act passed without a single Republican vote, and that single fact probably politicized the statute more than any other. But it wasn’t for want of trying. Indeed, because of the filibuster, the healthcare law was crafted, even if not ultimately passed, with moderate Republicans.
This most honestly suggests that we reached this point by actions that weren't just "both sides do it," but one side playing more hardball. The summary is off since numerous amendments had Republican involvement, more than once notably affecting aspects of the bill. Anyway, this still is a questionable defense. Conservative Democrats in both houses played a key role since Republicans en banc did not play ball to vote on the full bill. There were over ten in the Senate and at least on abortion, enough in the House to require alterations. It is far from clear, e.g., a public option would obtain even a mere majority. Contra to the op-ed, no filibuster would not mean a "Sanders" health bill.
Plus, again, such a one-sided process makes the filibuster (along with the undemocratic Senate -- Madison, e.g., wanted it split by population) more stringent than it otherwise would be. At some point, it gets too much. I'm open to some sort of mechanism here where we don't just rely on a mere majority. Supermajority mechanisms are not only present in the U.S., and as noted, the concept makes sense as a generally matter. This is so even if "elections has consequences" and other things (like courts) are present for a check. Garland being blocked like those D.C. judges et. al., however was a bridge too far. As was the Senate, once the Democrats were down to 59, not being even able to tweak the PPACA bill (a major reason it was not cleaned up, this not noted by potshots over at King v. Burwell).
Anyway, Neil Gorsuch will be sworn in on Monday. A Democratic attempt to at least delay the confirmation until late April (Senate is going on a break) might have kept him off the Court until after the final round of oral arguments. He might now have a role in some of the closely split cases, including those that might be granted for consideration (one, e.g., was held up for multiple conferences). But, like Trump, I find him on a basic level illegitimate and not worthy of a title. He will for me be forever Judge Gorsuch, a constant open sore to remind me of 2016-17.
I'm pissed off. The whole thing is also bad on a basic civics level. The approach some take is that it is bad, but you have to move on. Find this on a basic level normalizes things. It pains me, let's say, to hear Chris Hayes repeatedly use Trump's title. It's what you do as a news host. But, it normalizes him. That's horrible. Gorsuch is better than Trump. He's a credible governmental figure that would be a reasonable Scalia replacement in another situation. His hearings et. al. still would make him distasteful to me (guy really comes off as an asshole). But, in this situation, the whole thing is tainted. It's 1/9 of the Supreme Court.
I, sorry Scalia, will not get over it. Call me an old man who shakes his fist at the sun (not quite old, but do recall typewriters and cassette tapes), but I will not. The link in the footnote also provides some good material to understand the Syria business. See also, Just Security.
* The term is a tad overblown and ultimately is a sort of "constitutional" option where a majority of the Senate under Art. 1 make a rules change. (No matter what technically was done, that is what it amounts to.) Plus, with the military attacks on Syria yesterday, a sense of scale might be noted. Overall, the term is a tad exaggerated especially to the degree it was just the recent step in a series.