Don’t Swallow the Poison Pill

Should Democrats Boycott the Confirmation Hearings?

No, Mitch McConnell will not be stopped.

There’s a slim chance that Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins may find enough Republican company to stop the confirmation vote from occurring before the election, but this is window dressing.

Even if Biden wins and the Senate flips to the Democrats, McConnell still has a two-month lame-duck window to trash the place before he leaves. Nothing would be trashier than putting an arch-conservative in RBG’s seat. (Tonight, Trump sent out an email urging his followers to chant “Fill That Seat!!” at his rallies — as they did tonight, less than a day after RBG’s death. He said that “Being with American patriots has never felt better.”)

While I do not believe that enough GOP resistance can be mustered to prevent confirmation, I will, along with most of you, continue to try to use any available means to shame GOP senators into honoring the “principles” they articulated during the Merrick Garland obstruction.

Note that even though Susan Collins has stated that she opposes a confirmation vote before the election, she also says:

President Trump has the constitutional authority to make a nomination to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, and I would have no objection to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s beginning the process of reviewing his nominee’s credentials.

So two things:

1) Susan Collins does not have to go on record confirming her support of the nomination until after her struggling re-election campaign is done; and

2) Lindsay Graham’s Judiciary Committee hopes to hold another Kavanaugh-style confirmation spectacle.

As usual, Collins’ insistence on “fairness and consistency” is laced with crocodile tears. It’s another expression of “deep concern.” (Her opponent is Sara Gideon https://saragideon.com/)

The invitation to hold the confirmation hearings before the November election is a poison pill for Democrats. It may be that Trump’s nominee is as awful or worse than Kavanaugh. Apart from the fact that Democrats do not have the numbers to win a confirmation fight, setting up another media circus just before the vote gives the GOP an opportunity to enrage its base.

It also completely distracts voters from everything that should be discussed in the next few weeks: The failed economy, the evisceration of the ACA with no GOP health plan, racial injustice, voting rights, the wreckage of the environment, Trump’s coziness with Russia, and, most emphatically over 200,000 dead Americans because of a mismanaged — no, fraudulent — pandemic response.

If the hearings are held, Democratic resistance should be perfunctory. Perhaps Democrats on the committee could wear armbands with Merrick Garland’s name on it. They might decline to question the witnesses after noting the hypocrisy which led to the situation. If they go full Bret Kavanaugh, the campaign will disappear under a cloud of rage.

We need to get on with the business of crushing Trump and flipping the Senate.

As Michelle Goldberg writes:

If Republicans do give Ginsburg’s seat to some Federalist Society fanatic, Democrats must, if they win back the presidency and the Senate, abolish the filibuster and expand the court, adding two seats to account for both Garland and Ginsburg.

This goes against Joe Biden’s instincts toward bipartisanship and national reconciliation. But if Republicans continue to ruthlessly bend the rules to establish the domination of the minority over the majority, only hardball tactics can restore democratic equilibrium. Republicans will shriek, but their brazen hypocrisy should justify such dramatic moves in the eyes of the public. They’ll be the ones who’ve annihilated whatever legitimacy the court has left.

I’m not sure I’d stop at two seats, but recognize that this would still leave a Republican-appointed majority. 6-to-5. Perhaps there are arguments to be made that this was not just a power grab.