On the one hand, an op-ed in The Washington Post from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on the dangers of packing the Supreme Court is encouraging because it means the issue is gaining enough traction to worry him. On the other hand, fuck Mitch McConnell.
It’s McConnell at his trolling worst, and WaPo really needed to put a disclaimer on this thing: Mitch McConnell is the Senate Minority Leader who, while leading the majority, blocked President Barack Obama from filling a Supreme Court vacancy in his last year in office on the grounds that it was an election year and the voters should determine who made that appointment. He is also responsible for the appointment of Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett to the Court one week before an election. But apparently they decided to just go with ”Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is the Senate minority leader.”
As a reminder, here’s McConnell earlier this year:
Yes. He’d do it again.
So, anyway, McConnell says, “Naked attempts to bully judges have become a core priority for today’s Democratic Party.” He says, “in the most recent Democratic presidential primary, multiple candidates, including our current vice president, expressed openness to packing the court. This year, both House and Senate Democrats have introduced actual legislation to do it.”
McConnell didn’t need legislation to do it. He just needed the Federalist Society, all of their dark money, a complete lack of principles, and willingness to throw out the Constitution when it comes to the Senate’s role in the confirmation process.
McConnell also says, “Biden may have wanted to appear that he was sidestepping the issue by merely setting up a commission to study it. Don’t be misled. This was radical and unacceptable presidential behavior, part of a larger campaign to make independent judges feel as though they are on probation.”
Speaking of “radical and unacceptable presidential behavior,” remember what was happening in those weeks before the election, when McConnell was ramming through Barrett’s nomination? Trump was already declaring the election was rigged and that he expected his Supreme Court to fix it for him. “I’m counting on them to look at the ballots, definitely,” Trump said. At the time McConnell said it was “ridiculous” to suggest Barrett should recuse herself in any election case that came before the court, even after Trump’s claims. Democrats “are grasping at straws,” he said. “She has given nobody at the White House any hints or any assurances about any kinds of cases, real of hypothetical,” McConnell said.
“Judicial independence is as fragile as it is important,” he says. “Every single American deserves every possible guarantee that they will receive impartial justice,” as if that were still a thing in the Trump courts. “It would be beyond reckless for Democrats to smash this centuries-old safeguard in a fit of partisan pique.” Because we know how much McConnell values norms and traditions.
When it comes to packing courts, McConnell is an old hand. He’s got three illegitimate judges on the court, enough to radicalize it in his own image. Neil Gorsuch is sitting in the seat pilfered from the nation’s first Black president. Oh, and to get Gorsuch there, McConnell abolished the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. But do go on about preserving the system.
Then there’s Brett Kavanaugh, who faced numerous and credible sexual assault allegations as well as having a pretty shady financial situation on top of multiple perjury issues, none of which was adequately investigated during his rushed confirmation process. His experience, his temperament, his willingness to play fast and loose with the truth—all of that should have disqualified him from even being nominated.
Now, that’s court packing. That’s elected Republicans being willing to do anything and everything in their power to rig the system in their favor. In return, they secured a compliant Supreme Court majority, one willing to fully embrace the Court’s ignominious Jim Crow past. This is a court majority that wants the minority of the electorate and elected officials to rule. Just like McConnell ordered.
McConnell in his hypocritical trolling should never have been able to get this op-ed placed, but unfortunately that’s not how it works. However, no one should be taken in by it and certainly not those—congressional Democrats and President Biden—who have the responsibility to restore not just the Court, but the republic.