The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg yesterday is an event which will significantly impact the future of American politics for the rest of our history. The Roberts Court has seen multiple 5-4 decisions which have been extremely decisive for the future of our country. The timing of this vacancy just before an election which will certainly be historic as well as extremely significant, and there is precedence of courts interfering with elections with Bush v. Gore and numerous cases about voter discrimination over the last 10 years such as Shelby County v. Holder which required the revision of states which required preclearance under the Voting Rights Act.
Composition of the Supreme Court
There are currently 3 remaining liberal justices and 5 conservative justices on the Supreme Court. John Roberts has become the decisive swing vote after Anthony Kennedy’s resignation two years ago, and Kavanaugh and Gorsuch have been more moderate than I expected, but they are definitely on the conservative side of the court. Fivethirtyeight has good research on this issue.
A majority of justices on the Supreme Court have been appointed by Republicans since 1969 when Richard Nixon appointed Warren Burger and Harry Blackmun. This chart makes it very clear why we have so many 5-4 decisions right now in the Supreme Court, and how close we came to having a majority of Supreme Court justices being appointed by Democrats in 2016, the first time that could have happened without expanding the court since 1968.
Issues I anticipate will get attention
The Supreme Court will have cases on a very wide variety of issues over the next decade, just like every other decade in American history. Particularly I am concerned about their current desire to stop abortion, the possibility they will bring gay marriage back up, and the absolute guarantee that they will rule that the Affordable Care Act does not follow the commerce clause and is unconstitutional. They will invalidate voting rights laws, and defend gerrymandering. This will solidify Republican power and they will defend it.
This is a guarantee given the results of Rucho v. Common Cause.
They are not going to be moderate, and they are not going to play nice like Nancy Pelosi.
The 2 Rules of Republican Party Politics
The Republicans are not being contradictory in appointing another Supreme Court justice, but if you think it is contradictory that is because you are looking at it from a justice lens, as most Democrats have a destructive habit of doing. We expect everybody looks through the world with our own philosophy, which is damaging to society. The Republicans did not appoint Merrick Garland because it would have set them back decades in their crusade against voting rights, women’s rights, and concentrating power further in the hands of the (on average) old white men who bankroll their party. We see this with decisions to limit access to voting, but only in majority minority precincts, their crusade against birth control which is part of their very obvious quest to turn America into a plutocratic theocracy, and their adherence to Objectivism as proposed by Ayn Rand. The Republican mindset follows two rules:
- Might makes right.
- If people are not doing well, than that is a moral failure and it is their own fault.
That’s really all there is to it. You can fit every Republican policy into one of these two axioms.
The Republicans have complete power today. They control the Senate and the Presidency. They have the power to appoint a Supreme Court Justice, and because they believe might makes right, they are going to use it and we will have 6 Republican appointed justices on the Supreme Court.
Options going forward
I am expecting that we will live in a Republican dominated Supreme Court for a while. I highly doubt the Democrats are actually going to pack the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has been stable at 9 justices since 1940, and even though the stakes of the Court were particularly high in 2010 following Citizens United v. FEC Democratic Party leadership under President Obama, Chairman Kaine, and Speaker Pelosi was absolutely unwilling to modify the filibuster to pass the public option.
The Democrats have sat by and watched as States have passed many illegal voter discrimination laws, choosing not to bring them to court when there was a chance that they could have been overturned by the Supreme Court. This cost them the 2016 election. Since RBG died yesterday, it has also cost them the Supreme Court for the foreseeable future.
This is the party which stood by as a majority of state legislatures were gerrymandered, as a majority of states passed restrictive illegal voting laws, as they gave employers the ability to enforce their own religious beliefs on their employee’s health options, and now are committing crimes against humanity in our immigration prisons as a gift from mainstream respectable “play nice” Democrats.
A LOT of people are now saying that the Democrats are going to do an about face and increase the Supreme Court to 10 or 11 seats when Joe Biden becomes President and get the first liberal majority in 52 years.
It is not impossible, but given the level of voter disenfranchisement in our country today, I think it is extremely unlikely that the Democrats will change their losing strategy of the last 50 years.
There are now two probable options for the election this November:
- Donald Trump wins the Electoral College like he did in 2016.
- There is a long drawn out series of court battles if Joe Biden wins.
Those are our options.
This is why I voted for Elizabeth Warren in the primary. I believe her pragmatic progressivism would have brought states to court for violating Federal law, and led us towards an America where we could see real progress.
Instead we will have Joe Biden who was Vice President during the 6 years where Democrats controlled the Department of Justice and chose not to bring states to court as they violated Federal law in passing voter discrimination laws.
I am still voting for Joe Biden, and you should too. I would rather have a strategy free spineless wimp who wants everyone to play nice than someone who aspires to be a dictator. I highly HIGHLY doubt that he is going to do his Constitutional duty and uphold the Constitution of the United States by bringing states to court under the precedence of McCulloch v. Maryland, because that is what he did as Vice President.
Our only realistic option is to keep the Presidency for the next twenty years until both Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito have passed away, and then we can have a 5-4 court.
I want to be wrong.
But I wasn’t wrong about global warming.
I wasn’t wrong about carbon taxes.
I wasn’t wrong that the probability of one liberal justice would die before 2021.
I wasn’t wrong that Trump would play dirty.
I was not wrong that #jillnothill gave the Republicans 6 seats on the Supreme Court.
I want to be wrong.
Joe Biden, please break your precedent and prove me wrong.