Democrats Under The Gun With Supreme Court And Senate In The Balance

Discussion in 'Politics & Religion' started by Frank Underwood, Jun 29, 2018.

  1. Frank Underwood

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    Red-state Democrats will face pressure from the right and left in the fight to replace Anthony Kennedy.

    Senate Democrats are about to face their toughest political test yet of the Trump era: a Supreme Court confirmation battle that will play out as they scrap with the GOP for control of the chamber.

    The stakes are difficult to overstate. The confirmation itself could reshape the court for a generation, with Democrats warning of the rollback of abortion rights. And the corresponding political fight may well determine the outcome of key Senate races, where at-risk Democrats will be besieged with pressure to support President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.

    Democrats are unable to stop the GOP from confirming Trump’s nominee because Senate Republicans killed the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees. But they may be able to sway a handful of pro-abortion rights Republicans — if they can stick together. At the least, Democrats could present a united front that energizes their liberal base going into the midterm elections.

    That’s far from guaranteed, however. Three of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s most vulnerable Democrats backed Justice Neil Gorsuch last year. But the dynamics are different as Trump faces the second high court vacancy — especially one to replace a key swing vote.

    Schumer joined the battle Wednesday by drawing a hard line against Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist. And while most Senate Democrats also began ruling out Trump’s likely nominees, the party’s moderates set no such conditions, leaving room to firm up their stances after the president makes his choice.

    Republicans already are vowing to hammer red-state Democrats who oppose the president’s pick.

    Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), chief of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said in an interview that the coming Supreme Court fight would be “perhaps the most significant issue that you could imagine, going into the fall.”

    That leaves Schumer — credited by liberals and moderates for his leadership of the caucus so far — staring down the most challenging moment of his time as Democratic leader. He responded with a statement that should cheer progressive activists.

    “The Senate should reject, on a bipartisan basis, any justice who would overturn Roe v. Wade or undermine key health care protections,” Schumer said in a floor speech after the news of Kennedy‘s retirement rocked Washington. “The Senate should reject anyone who will instinctively side with powerful special interests over the interests of average Americans.”

    Democrats up for reelection in states Trump carried in 2016, however, made no such rejection vows. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) issued a statement saying only that he would “thoroughly review the record and qualifications of any nominee,” and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) made similar comments. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Wednesday that it’s too soon to tell how she’ll approach the nomination, saying that “obviously, this is going to unfold over weeks and months.”

    The pressure on Schumer and his red-state members won’t just be coming from the GOP. Liberal groups in Schumer’s home state immediately urged him to “do everything in your power to unite Democrats to keep this seat empty — for as long as necessary.”

    That energy from the left, which has powered Democrats to multiple special election victories since Trump took office, promises to boost the party further in November if it can make a strong showing against the president’s nominee. That’s particularly true for women voters, many of whom view Roe protections as inviolable and who could hand Democrats key Senate pickup opportunities in Nevada and Arizona.

    “This is the No. 1 issue I hear about from women: their right to choose and protect that right,” said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).

    She followed by heaping pressure on vulnerable Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.): “I’m going to be looking to make sure that that individual is not put there by this administration to roll back Roe v. Wade. And anybody from Nevada who is running for office should be paying attention to that, because the voters will.”

    Democrats boycotted confirmation hearings last year for three of Trump’s Cabinet picks as part of a strategy to pull out all the stops against nominees, even if the minority ultimately couldn’t prevent their confirmation. Whether they employ similar tactics against Trump’s still-unnamed nominee remains to be seen, but for now Democratic leaders are more interested in pressuring the GOP to delay the confirmation until after November when an election could hand them control of the Senate.

    “We will object. We can make all kinds of noise about it. But this is a choice the Republicans are making, to push through a nominee without the voters having a decision after they said voters had a right to make a decision [in 2016],” Sen. Patty Murray, Democrats’ No. 3 leader, said in an interview.

    Democrats can’t forget Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) 2016 blockade of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, and are eager to call out GOP hypocrisy. But they privately acknowledge that they have no chance of changing McConnell’s mind.

    In fact, it was only hours after the Supreme Court opening when Republicans began using it in their own fundraising appeals, counting on the quick confirmation of a conservative justice who tips the court’s balance to help turn out their base in November.

    “It does once again heighten the importance of a Republican Senate to voters who are reminded again to what big an impact that the Senate majority has on who serves on the court,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). “It will encourage people who want to see that majority to continue to get out and work harder.”

    Mike Braun, Donnelly’s GOP opponent in Indiana, and Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, who’s challenging McCaskill in November, also raced to push their Democratic foes to support Trump’s eventual nominee. The onslaught of pressure on the left and right facing Democrats, coupled with little leverage to stop the confirmation, left many with their heads spinning.

    Asked whether he would do all he could procedurally to stop Trump’s nominee, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) — who won GOP plaudits for helping speed the confirmation process for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — chose his words carefully.

    “I need some time to process what is probably the biggest development in constitutional jurisprudence in my lifetime,” Coons said.

    Source: https://www.politico.com/story/2018...y-retirement-senate-democrats-congress-680622
     
  2. Frank Underwood

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    How Democrats Can Save The Supreme Court

     

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