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09 February 2017

Justice for All?

The latest hoopla with our President is getting a ninth Supreme Court justice confirmed to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia who died a year ago come 12-13 February 2017 (he was found dead in bed when he did not come down for breakfast while he was a guest at a Texas ranch, hunting quail.  Since the Republicans had been obstructing President Obama since the day of his first election in 2008 and had the majority in Congress, they decided not even to consider his nomination for a replacement, no matter who that person would be, saying they would wait for the next president, whoever he (or she) would be.  This kind of refusal to do the business of the country is unprecedented.  As it turned out, it would have been someone that they would have wanted -- Merritt Garland, but in the age of no compromise, no statesmanship, there was no way to back down from that extreme stance.

Some additional back story: due to the obstructionist nature of the Republicans (and for awhile, the obnoxious behaviour of the Democrats), to avoid filibusters requiring 60 votes in the Senate, the Democrats invoked what is known as the "nuclear option," for "up or down votes" (simple majority) for Senate approval of all the President's nominations except for the Supreme Court.  Now, the Democrats can cry craven all they want, but every single one of President Trump's nominees have been confirmed, even Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.  This, I have to believe, is a pure political appointment, a boondoggle for a contributor, because she not only is not qualified in experience, she isn't even a political operative.  And when I mean she's not experienced, I not only refer to the fact that she has never been an educator, a member of the PTA or even a mother of a public school student, she herself has never attended public schools.  Additionally, the Department of Education has been one of the Federal agencies which the Republicans have been trying to eliminate, saying for a very long time that schools are in local control, and the Federal government should get out of the way.  I bring up Betsy DeVos's nomination, only because two Republicans acknowledged her unsuitability for this position and overcame their party loyalties to vote no, causing a 50-50 tie and resulting in a tie breaker by our Vice President Pence.  This event in itself is unprecedented, at least in living history.

President Trump has nominated Neil Gorsuch, whom some has lauded as conservative, anti-abortion, advocate of individual gun rights (a second digression -- Why does registering one's guns or having to prove competency to use guns infringe on gun owners' rights?  Don't you have to prove you know how to drive and know all the rules of the road in order to get a driver's license?  And, I don't think a dealer would allow you to drive a car off the lot without a driver's license or a car registration.), advocate of business interests, etc.

Now, the Democrats have a chance to block the first nominee to the Supreme Court and the Republicans have the chance to invoke the nuclear option on the one appointment decision which the Democrats could still filibuster on.  The question is, do the Democrats really want to that?  If the Democrats couldn't block Betsy DeVos, there is no way they will be able to do so with Gorsuch.  Granted, the Democrats are otherwise powerless, but will again be powerless once the nuclear option is invoked.  Granted, the Democrats and their supporters feel "cheated," and that the nomination was "stolen" when the Republicans successfully did not even allow Merritt Garland's candidacy to make it to the floor.  But, again, can the Democrats rise above all this and consider the President's nominee on his merits?

Some take the high road and say, they just want to make sure Gorsuch is independent of Trump's agenda, e.g., .  Some just say, they wouldn't vote for anyone President Trump nominates, especially since there has been pressure and unhappiness from Democrat followers over the Democrat lawmakers inability to do something or in the words of the protesters, "Do your job," although who knows what they believe the Democrats in office can do?  Not I.

I would be open to Neal Katyal's discussion on NPR, addressed to those who reasonably believe we need a ninth Supreme Court Justice and soon.  I think we can all that we do need a ninth Supreme Court Justice and soon.  Whether we can be less divisive than the Republicans (even find a way to capitalize on that!) remains to be seen.

What's the book tie today?  Christopher Buckley's Supreme Courtship is out of stock indefinitely at the publisher, but we hope it'll be back soon.  The premise is actually the opposite of what is happening now, what might have happened during President Obama's time.  The POTUS is having difficulty getting a Supreme Court nominee through the Senate confirmation process and in frustration, nominates a popular TV judge.  Thankfully, she does have a law degree and is a bona fide judge.

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