President Trump has now, unsurprisingly, chosen to nominate the far right Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. The only sensible approach is for Senate Democrats neither to meet with Barrett nor participate in the confirmation process. Even to do so in a critical posture is to add legitimacy to a process that is illegitimate.
As bad as she may be as a judge or for the future of equal justice in the United States she can never be as bad as the corruption of the process itself. It is that corruption – the court-packing scheme Republicans pushed into overdrive starting in early 2016 – that justifies, indeed requires Democrats to add seats to the Court in 2021. Distracting from that reality with a gauzy-lensed look at Barrett’s personal story and judicial merits is madness. Pure madness.
Here too politics lines up neatly with principle. This will be a high profile spectacle that will dominate the final weeks of the election and be 100% under the control of the GOP and the White House. It is literally stage managed by the GOP. All the initiative is in their hands. One might as well agree to shut down one’s own campaign for the last month of the election.
Trump is the issue in the election. It is his defeat which will allow Democrats to undo the damage of this corrupt process in 2021. No matter how bad Barrett comes off in hearings – and remember, it’s a process 100% controlled by the President and Senate Republicans – she certainly will not come off worse than Donald Trump. Why allow that? Why participate? Why feed the false claim of legitimacy?
Republicans have already told us that Barrett herself is irrelevant to this process. Almost every Senate Republican agreed to vote to confirm her before they knew who Trump would nominate. They could not have made this more clear. She is irrelevant. Is she hard right? Of course. Just like the other possible choices.
You can’t insist a process is illegitimate while granting it legitimacy, while arguing within the questions the process raises. In this context, participation amounts to begging. Begging is weak. Democrats need to make clear that the only answer to Republican court-packing which will toss millions off health care, cripple voting rights, further limit reproductive rights and more important than anything be a decades-long veto over all progressive legislation is to elect Democrats and repair the damage in 2021.
Don’t participate. It’s madness.