Top 5 Reasons Senate Dems should block all Trump Supreme Court Nominees, Forever

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

We don’t need a Trump-nominated supreme Court justice. We desperately don’t need such a person. And there is no reason to have one. The Democrats in the Senate should just filibuster any nomination for the next four years. Now, you may say that a president deserves to have the nominee of his choice voted on. But those were the old rules before we saw how the Republican Party treated Barack Obama. They just told him no, no, no on everything. Everything. They even threatened the home mortgages of government employees by closing down the government. Twice. They vilified Obama, shouted disrespectfully at him from the floor of Congress, and then they refused even to let his Supreme Court nominee, a centrist, come up for a vote. They declared President Obama a lame duck when he had 11 months left in his presidency.

I declare Donald Trump a lame duck now. Four years out. Here are the reasons the Senate should block his nominee:

1. Republicans did not let Merrick Garland come up for a vote. Why should Democrats allow someone else to?

2. Republicans declared Barack Obama a lame duck beginning in February of 2016, when he had 11 months in office. I declare Donald Trump a lame duck, four years out. 11 months, 48 months– what’s the difference among friends? If presidents aren’t really presidents for 23% of their terms, why not make it an even 100%? After all, the next election isn’t far away. The American people deserve to be heard on this issue, and the results of this election were too confused to allow them to be heard decisively. We can just wait till 2020, the way the GOP wanted us to wait till Obama was out of office to do anything at all.

3. Nearly 3 million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than for Trump, even with substantial voter suppression in states like North Carolina. They did so because they cared about women’s reproductive rights, labor rights, the environment, civil liberties, and other issues decided by the Supreme Court. It would be an extreme insult to popular sovereignty to thwart their voices, the majority of the country, and have a minority president appoint some far right patriarchal demagogue to injure their constitutional rights.

4. The issue transcends ideology. Many of Trump’s appointees have been loony as the day is long. His national security adviser, Mike Flynn, thinks that Hillary Clinton secretly practices voodoo and he just met with the head of a far right party founded by ex-Nazis in Austria. The Supreme Court interprets the constitution for our country and we can’t afford Trump’s affirmative action for the Tinfoil Hat Brigade to extend into that august body.

5. The 8-person Supreme Court we now have is just fine. They don’t need another colleague. Without Antonin Scalia, they have been making reasonable decisions. Let them go on doing so. You might argue that they need to have an odd number of members so that ties can be broken. But, why? If they can’t decide a case because they’re deadlocked, it can just be returned to the district court it came from. Besides, maybe Clarence Thomas will retire and we can suffice with 7 justices.

You might say that if the Dems act in this way, the Republicans will just change the Senate rules so that things are done by a simple majority. Let them. Sooner or later the Democrats will get a simple majority in the senate along with a Democratic president, and no one ever again will be able to constrain them the way the GOP put President Obama into a straight jacket.

We’re watching you, Senate Democrats. Remember: No Trump appointee should be seated. Ever.


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28 Responses

  1. At first, I thought this was a wink and a nod sort of thing. I think you’re totally seriously, AND I LOVE THIS!

  2. Ted Boettner

    sad part is i remember when the Dem establishment went all in for John Kerry in 2003, which helped lead to his defeat.

    • EXCUUUSE ME! As a long time member of VVAW I kept a candle for years following his April ’71 Foreign Relations Committee appearance. But he went and blew it big time in the face of the Swiftboat onslaught after the ’04 convention. If that hadn’t been bad enough, he then had a presser at the Grand Canyon and announced that he would probably have invaded Iraq as well, if it had been up to him. That’s when he became Herr Hairy Kerry to me, just another double talking pol.

  3. What a very sensible and farseeing idea. I hope it gets taken up-it will be one of the only good acts the Dems have achieved recently, and would avoid terrible consequences for the future if other Justices similar to the “conservatives” on the SCOTUS were to be chosen and confirmed.

  4. Dr. Cole,

    While normally I would be opposed to this sort of obstructionism, given the behavior of the Republican congress over Obama’s two terms I think it’s not only justified, but necessary. Besides, the Republicans repeatedly said last year that it was just fine to have an 8-judge SCOTUS.

    Tit-for-tat is, according to game theory, the most effective strategy in most competitive undertakings. Giving them a taste of their own medicine would not only be poetic justice, it might disincline them from doing this stuff again. If, on the other hand, the Dems roll over for Trump and lick his hand like they have for every other Republican president, they will have shown that they are nothing but a bunch of rubber-stamping doormats to whom nobody need pay any attention.

  5. Clearly, Trump and his picks for high office are immense cause for concern. The United States is clearly in decline, and if we are to prevent getting to the point of collapse as so many other empires have done in the past, the American people must be prepared to resist destructive policies coming out of the Trump administration. The suggestion about blocking Trump nominees from the supreme (?) court is well worth considering.

  6. Right on, Juan! Dems have wasted almost eight years trying to be civil and patriotic. No more turning the other cheek!! Make the GOPers feel our rage, set the precedent, and use it against them when Dems are back in control.

  7. You realize of course that this is exactly what the GOP Senate would say if Hillary was POTUS, right? What does this solve?

    • I think that Prof. Cole’s premise is that Trump will appoint some troglodyte moron for the seat on the Court. Taking the suggested approach won’t address the issue of political deadlock in confirming appointments, but it will prevent said Trump appointed moron from being seated on the Court, which would then become tilted to the right in the longer term.

      Antoinetta III

  8. I 100%, fully agree, Juan. Please forward this column to your Senators. I don’t have any; I’m in North Carolina.

  9. The Senate confirmed two Obama justices without a filibuster. Did you want Garland confirmed or not? Because you argue that eight justices is just fine. You seemed confused.

    • yes but we who voted for Obama in 2012 by a margin of 5 million votes were owed a third and it was stolen from us. I say, steal right back. As for the first two, you can’t pat GOP senate on back for just doing their jobs.

  10. Beginning in 1981 the Democrats worked with President Reagan and he proceeded to tear apart the policies of the New Deal, undo environmental policies, enact policies for the rich that led to vast income and wealth inequality, and crushed labor unions so that the wages of average workers did not increase. We have already seen many aspects of the media normalize Trump’s behavior. Now, apparently it is okay for many people to have a President who is a racist, xenophobic pathological liar who sexually assaults women. We have in power someone who knows nothing of foreign policy only a little about domestic policy, has no public service experience and has appointed a number of people who are on the political fringe and/or are totally unqualified for the posts they would take. So, yes, we need to stop any Supreme Court appointments and we need to oppose and obstruct almost everything this illegitimate president will propose. To do otherwise is to show by inaction that his past behavior and radical policies are within the bounds of normalcy and acceptability. They aren’t.

  11. Such actions will do nothing to stem the erosion of US prestige and standing elsewhere. The result will be other nations increasingly taking responsibility for issues formally firmly in the US province. There are only two ways to exercise authority over other nations; by example or force; relinquish the first and you have only the second.

  12. The problem here is that the Republicans don’t mind if the government loses all credibility. They want to downsize, privatize and let the rich who can afford take care of themselves. They didn’t mind sabotaging for Obama because in their minds that just proved how incompetent the government was to run things. The democrats may not want to go down that road.

  13. 100000% with you on this, Juan. But the reality is that we won’t get our wish. Too many Dems are too chickenshi* to play hardball, the Republican way. They still cling to the quaint notion that the loyal opposition ought to do what’s in the national interest and cooperate with a president from the other party.

    Of course, if the Republicans had acted appropriately during Obama’s tenure, this country would have been so much better off.

    Let’s hope that you’re right and that I’m wrong. I’d like nothing better than to give these jerks a taste of their own medicine.

  14. You seem to forget that the Democratic establishment, as exemplified by the Clintons and Obama are really moderate Republicans and quite happy with Justices who are generally conservative so long as they will say the correct (left) things about hot button social issues. None of the Republican agenda of the last 40 years could have passed without the acquiescence and/or connivance of the Democrats. e.g. Obamacare – a plan originally hatched by a right wing think tank to avoid single payer and save the insurance companies profits; repeal of Glass-Steagal; welfare “reform “; phony Wall Street regulation; immunizing criminal bankers from fraud prosecution; etc.

  15. This won’t happen because establishment Democrats have turned into the biggest group of spineless losers in history. Throughout the entire Obama Presidency, the Senate and House Democrats just stood there while the GOP ran a muck and either vilified or made a mockery of our longstanding institutions

  16. What’s astounding to me is how the “Tinfoil Hat Brigade,” as you describe them, the Breitbarts, the Alex Jones’s, etc – people who push wild conspiracy theories like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, The Bilderbergs, ZOG, #pizzagate, or even that the moon landing was staged – how these people refuse to see the ACTUAL takeover of the US government by this band of Russian-influenced oligarchs, with Trump and his surrogates as the front men.

    They only have to look at the daily headlines (assuming they believe them) to see it unfolding before their very eyes.

    Instead, they’ll rant on about the UN global conspiracy, all the while ignoring or dismissing the kakistocracy that we’re now living under.

    I’d recommend watching the films “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” or “Gas Light” to understand this mass psychosis.


  17. I agree with you Juan. It is deeply unsettling that Donald Trump will be in the WH for the next 4 years; what a nightmare! All of us together will need to put up as much resistance as possible.

    The manner in which the Republicans have treated President Obama has been stomach churning. There is nothing I would like better than to see them pay a political price for what they have already wrought on the American people (not to mention the suffering & hardship yet to come), but that is the voters choice.

    In the unlikely event the Democrats decide to block Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, they will need to hammer it in, making it very, very clear to the American people the reason is not political retribution, tho the Republicans will claim it is.

    By conveying a very direct message to their constituents in terms they could relate to on a personal level – things that affect themselves & their families, IMHO explains why many newly elected Democratic candidates were successful.

    Using this same approach to explain w explicit specificity how people’s lives have been affected by Supreme Court decisions,& will be in relationship to Trump’s nominee, the Ds would be much more apt to sway public opinion to support blocking Trump’s nominees.

    Suffice to say, Trump & his party will relentlessly attack making all sorts of false accusations against the Ds. Yet when people understand an issue & are aware of the negative impact it will have on their families, they generally do not change their minds.

    The next 4 years are going to be one battle after another.
    If you want Democrats to fight for us, then call them on the telephone & tell them often, ‘we have your back.’

  18. Professor Cole — For many years I have found your comments a model of nuanced, deeply knowledgeable analysis offered in reliance upon cited, confirmable or disconfirmable fact. Over the years, I have thought what you write, because of what you write about and how you write it, one of the major bulwarks against the rising dark.

    I regard a Trump presidency a disaster.

    From the perspective of all the above — This piece is the antithesis of what you have, invaluably, stood for. It is less than not worthy of you.

    Your name attached to it will evoke agreement where many other names would have evoked its merited condemnation.

    I hope that you will reconsider.

    With great respect,

    Dan Larkin

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