One year ago Senate Republicans altered the chamber’s rules, used the so-called “nuclear option” to stop filibusters of Trump’s Supreme Court nominees, and then confirmed Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court Justice.
Senate Majority Leader and evil turtle man Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said reporters just before the confirmation vote took place, “As I look back on my career, I think the most consequential decision I’ve ever been involved in was the decision to let the president being elected last year pick the Supreme Court nominee.”
It’s been a year, but his opinion hasn’t changed.
McConnell said once again that the most important accomplishment, in his mind, of Donald Trump’s administration so far has been the number of conservative judicial appointments the president has gotten through.
“I believe that’s the most important thing we’re doing,” the majority leader said. “You’ve heard me say before that I thought the decision I made not to fill the Supreme Court vacancy when Justice Scalia died was the most consequential decision I’ve made in my entire public career. The things that will last the longest time – those are my top priorities.”
McConnell’s assessment is of course factually correct. The worst consequences of the Donald Trump era are those that are not easily changed. Health care benefits could be fully restored, alliances could be rebuilt, and the tax breaks could be gotten rid of, but on issues like global warming and the courts, Republican governance will hurt many millions of people over the next few generations.
At least the Senate Republican leader appreciates how much of an effect his awful actions will have. After all, Turtle McConnell did something not many Americans in history can claim: he literally stole a Supreme Court seat from the Democrats and he got away with it.
When Justice Antonin Scalia passed away, then-President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, who is a center-left, compromise judge to fill the seat which opened up a historic opportunity, which has been unseen in the last few decades: the Supreme Court might finally stop moving towards the right, towards social oppression and hatred for low income people.
McConnell instead chose to impose a high-court blockade, unprecedented in US history, betting that Americans would elect both an evil Republican president and an evil Republican Congress.
His gamble was very “consequential”, all right. McConnell stole a Supreme Court judge from one administration and then he handed it to another, perhaps the crappiest administration in history. Rather than a center-left judge working with a conservative minority in the Supreme Court, we have another conservative majority – but this time with the far-right monster Neil Gorsuch, who’s just 50, and will likely serve for decades to come.
This is a scandal that has never been appreciated. Just after the presidential election, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes that the Senate Republicans’ hateful treatment of a completely qualified, moderate jurist was a political crime. The Supreme Court seat, argued the Oregon senator, was “stolen from the Obama administration and the construct of our Constitution. And it’s being delivered to an administration that has no right to fill it.” TAmericans, Merkley added, must “understand that this is the theft of the court.”
One year later, the burglar is very happy with himself. That’s to be expected, I suppose: if you got away with the biggest heist in decades, you would pat yourself on the back, or in McConnell’s case, pat yourself on the turtle shell.