Every time Americans turn inward against each other, it is because of the Supreme Court. From Dred Scott to Roe v. Wade and a variety of points in between, the flaw of our constitutional republic is letting an oligarchy of five black-robed masters impose the morality of Harvard Yard on 350 million of their fellow citizens.
We are here, at this moment particularly, because of something too few want to say out loud. One of those oligarchs decided to gamble with her own life, impervious to calls for removal, so that she could try to shape the balance of the United States Supreme Court.
She could have left while Obama was still there. But no, Ruth Bader Ginsburg decided to hang on through a pancreatic cancer fight hoping to use herself as a rallying cry for the left to mobilize in November and shape the election.
Now, thanks to her pride, we’re going to get more riots.
There’s no denying that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a lion in American history, a force for progressive social policy, and a very kind and decent human. Our prayers should be with her family at this time. But we really should not dance around the fact that we are now, less than fifty days before a presidential election, in a new plot twist because she attempted to hang on for the sake of a progressive appointment to the Court.
I see no reason why the GOP should humor her desires except for, I dunno, the possibility of civil unrest, a Democrat court-packing scheme if they take the Senate, and the fact that waiting will not change the composition of the United States Supreme Court.
Except the GOP cannot avoid this fight, can they?
The GOP has long promised their base the repeal of Obamacare and failed. They’ve stoked the fires in the past year with rumors of RBG’s health that they would advance a nominee. Trump got the Republican nomination because the base of the party declared “he fights” compared to all the other Republicans.
If Trump doesn’t fight, the base is betrayed. If the GOP Senate doesn’t fight, the base is alienated. The GOP has to have this fight because they’ve played on the emotions of their base for so long over the Supreme Court that the base will boil Republican rabbits if there is a betrayal.
Also, why are we even having this conversation? There is no doubt in my mind that if a Democrat were President and a conservative Supreme Court Justice died in a presidential election year, the Democrats would try to fill the seat. There is no doubt at all. Oh wait! That already happened. Democrats can quibble with the timing, but they cannot deny in a presidential year they tried to do it. They can complain all they want about McConnel not bringing Garland to a vote, but elections have consequences.
Of course, so does this appointment.
If the GOP does not advance a nominee, the GOP burns.
If the GOP confirms a nominee, the nation burns.
In the spirit of not negotiating with terrorists and the fact that most Americans prefer a GOP controlled Senate according to a variety of polls and the fact that most Americans are not down for a progressive advance in the country, the GOP should put up a nominee.
To then save the GOP Senate from the backlash and the nation from the embers, let Murkowski, Collins, Gardner, and Alexander vote against the nominee if they desire.
You give the base the fight you promised them. You let Collins and Gardner show they can stand up to the President under extraordinary pressure. You keep the seat open and possibly, because of Gardner and Collins, keep the Senate in GOP hands.
Thanks to five black-robed masters imposing their morality on the country for so long, the perpetual culture war shows no signs of ending. The very people demanding the GOP now surrender would be screaming for the Democrats to advance a nominee. They did that just four years ago.
I don’t think the GOP should unilaterally disarm and stand down. I’m also not sure it would be wise to proceed, but I know the GOP cannot not proceed. McConnell could potentially stack the deck to allow Gardner and Collins to show their independence, save the Senate, and deal with this later.
But for all the hagiographic and worshipful obituaries we will read for an amazing person now before the throne of God, we should also be mindful we are here at this point because that one person tried to hang on to shape the election and set the terms of her own departure.
Hubris nods knowingly.