In a bombshell announcement, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said he was retiring from the Supreme Court. There had long been speculation he’d retire, his wife allegedly wanted him to retire. He will turn 82-years-old in July. Without meaning to disparage, he was old and tired and that was reflected in this last session where he seemingly rolled over and let the partisan right-wingers have their way. Even his concurring opinion in support of Trump’s “Travel Ban,” a meager 1 and 1/2 pages indicated his effort was gone. Kennedy had apparently retired long before his announcement.
Immediately, Trump, McConnell, and many top Republicans started drooling at the thought of what they could do with an untouchable partisan majority once they inserted another like-minded Justice to serve 30-40 years or more on the bench. They could undo Roe v. Wade, outlaw gay marriage and eliminate Affirmative Action. Planned Parenthood… gone! This most recent session gave us a glimpse as to what the new SCOTUS would look like. They approved a “Travel Ban” which was an ill-disguised Muslim Ban in its third iteration, they severely wounded public unions by eliminating their ability to collect dues from all workers they were required to represent. They looked the other way on “Partisan Gerrymandering” which in most cases is “Racial Gerrymandering” by another name. Out of the other side of their mouth, they said; “Racial Gerrymandering” is bad and rejected the Texas version of it, The new Court, not much different than the current one, will take away rights from women, gays, minorities, workers, and students. We don’t have to guess at their intentions, they are happy to tell us who they are and what they plan. And that will be their undoing.
While the Democrat Party has mostly been a pushover in times like these. Even the initial comments from the elected leaders are focusing on Republicans not “being fair” when not applying the same standard about holding confirmation hearings so close to an important election. Frankly, they sound like they’re whining and when Mitch McConnell points out that “Mid-Terms are different than a Presidential election,” he’s right. The same President will be in place before and after the election and would be in no way compelled to consider any result of the election when making his appointment and sending him/her to the Senate for confirmation. A far more compelling argument is that the current President is a target of an investigation and has a conflict of interest in appointing a Justice that might ultimately hear his case. Another possibility is that he’s demonstrated an unusual deference to the Russians he may or may not have conspired with, we should wait for the investigation to be concluded before possibly letting Vladimir Putin select our next Supreme Court Justice.
But it won’t be Democrat leaders who carry the fray, it will be the people. It will be the women, even many of the 53% of white women who voted for the serial sexual harasser, pussy grabbing adulterer that didn’t give them pause earlier. They will recognize that killing Planned Parenthood not only limits options for abortion but takes away the only source of Healthcare for an astonishing number of women, particularly in rural areas. The LGBTQ community will be reinforced in the knowledge that their hard-fought rights, many decided on the swing vote of Anthony Kennedy, are in jeopardy. Any Black people who hadn’t yet decided what it was they had to lose under a Trump administration will have noticed Trump and Jeff Sessions bringing back mass incarceration and expanding voter suppression. Hispanic voters will have noticed people that look like them having their children separated from their parents, some likely to never see them again. Muslim voters are now more than an ocean away from friends and relatives, they are separated by laws no less racially based that those that interred the Japanese during World War II while Germans and Italians with whom we were also at war, were affected in much smaller percentages. Young people will see that individual rights have been pushed aside for corporate rights and that they are doing worse than their parents as a result.
At Planned Parenthood, phones are already ringing off the hook because the man who promised he’d make overturning Roe v. Wade a litmus test when selecting a Justice, is preparing to do it again. He lived up to his promise on his first choice, Neil Gorsuch, and will no doubt do the same on his second. Hispanics who have traditionally not turned out at the polls in representative numbers will be there, perhaps remembering the cries of the children, calling for their mothers. Reliable Black people will be there again, hoping to get in line next to someone wearing a MAGA hat. Muslims will turn out, Native-Americans who don’t see the humor in “Pocahontas” being used to ridicule Elizabeth Warren about her lineage. And then the women, some of whom stood by while Republicans came for all the other groups, now see that Trump, and the Republican Party, have come for them.
While Democrat leaders are calling on deaf ears for “fairness.” Americans are mobilizing against a Court and a Republican Party gone too far. These will be votes against the Republicans as opposed to for Democrats and Democrats would do well to start standing for something as opposed to only being against Trump. Democrats and even the people may not be able to stave off the confirmation of the type of Justice many of us fear. They can take back control of the House and Senate and begin to legislate fixes instead of not doing their job which has been true for the past two decades.
The Democrat Party has an excellent chance to re-take the House of Representatives and in what originally looked like dire straits, have a better chance than before of controlling the Senate as well. In a new day without the filibuster. They can perhaps pay less heed to civility and more to the people. It will require less whining and more organizing. The upcoming elections will be won by getting out the vote and the people have been energized to a level not seen before. The leaders of the Democrat Party need to lead or get out of the way because the people are coming.