Did we even think it possible that an electorate already forced to navigate the frightening, shark-infested waters of a pandemic, crashing economy, and widespread civil unrest would see those existential issues shoved aside just a month and a half before an election of historic magnitude?
Only in 2020.
Indeed, a year we have all spent in a tormented existence just turned even more taxing on the soul of the nation. A grim, twilight struggle to gain control of the highest court in the land for a generation or more is now a certainty. And while the framers of the U.S. Constitution hardly envisioned a Supreme Court and federal judges with the level of power that has ultimately accrued to the judicial branch in the fullness of time, the reality on the ground – judicial supremacy – assures a titanic battle which could make the shameful Brett Kavanaugh episode look tame – if that is actually possible.
The left will almost certainly employ whatever weapons remain in their well-worn anti-Trump arsenal to obliterate Trump’s nominee. You can bet they are already preparing the harshest of personal attacks on the most prominent names on Trump’s extensive and publicly-released list of potential justices.
So Much At Stake For the Left
This is for good reason. The left has far more at stake in this confirmation fight than the right. If Joe Biden wins the election and can name a replacement for the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, that would only sustain the current right-leaning composition of the court. But if Trump and Mitch McConnell push his nominee across the finish line, conservatives will gain control of the court.
One side seeks to survive, the other to thrive.
Thus, the stakes are higher than ever for a progressive movement that has long depended on the federal courts to sanction explosively controversial initiatives rejected in the normal legislative process. Abortion, gay marriage, and restrictions on the first and second amendments are issues that come most immediately to mind.
Democrats have tied their own hands in this matter. They have unloaded virtually every scurrilous allegation on Donald Trump, so incessant personal attacks on the president during this process will hardly startle voters accustomed to hearing for years on end that Trump is everything from a fascist to a white supremacist. The Trump-addled left has cried wolf for so long that few beyond the long-gone Trump haters will pay much attention.
The Kavanaugh Miscalculation
The party also disgraced itself immeasurably in the battle to destroy Trump’s last Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. It cost them dearly in the 2018 Senate elections, which expanded GOP control of the upper chamber. The Democrats’ array of scandalous, unfounded allegations against Kavanaugh will make their coming sound and fury about another upstanding nominee little more than just hollow cries in the darkness.
There was always a sense that in going after Kavanaugh, the left picked the wrong battle, for control of the court was not at stake – Kavanaugh was simply a bit more conservative than the justice he replaced, Anthony Kennedy. It seemed more prudent to save their fire for this battle, with the very direction of the court at stake, but they all but forfeited their integrity at the altar of destroying Kavanaugh.
On top of that, much like in the vice-presidential selection process, Joe Biden has boxed himself into a corner by promising to name a black woman to the high court. The need to satisfy a party given over to identity politics rendered Kamala Harris the only real choice as running mate for the former vice president, and now he will have to respond by either doubling down or renouncing his promise to nominate a woman of color to the Supreme Court. We will soon find out whether Biden will bow to growing pressure to announce who his nominee would be.
The Possible Nominee?
Among likely Trump nominees, there is little question that the most politically advantageous choice for the president would be Appellate Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett. She is a rising star in conservative judicial circles, young (48 years old) and attractive, already Senate-confirmed, and widely admired. As a woman replacing another woman on the court, her selection would box Biden and the left into an even deeper corner because personal attacks on the winsome Judge Barrett days before an election would not sit well with those pesky suburban women who the left has been heavily courting throughout the Trump era.
Like the famous Tinkers to Evers to Chance double-play combination of baseball legend, the judicial assembly line from the Federalist Society to the White House to the Senate has been nothing short of a well-oiled machine. Trump has already delivered more than 200 judges to the federal courts – more in three and a half years than Obama named in eight years. Now, he stands at the precipice of a historic moment, destined to be discussed and debated for years to come. The opposition has weakened itself to a point where only the hope of a precious few Republican Senators who might be cajoled into joining the resistance can stand in the way.
Read more from Tim Donner.