Not Trump’s to fill

Dahlia Lithwick says we should all throw a huge tantrum about the Supreme Court, and scream and scream and scream until we’re sick, because the Republicans stole that god damn vacancy.

The current Supreme Court vacancy is not Trump’s to fill. This was President Obama’s vacancy and President Obama’s nomination. Please don’t tacitly give up on it because it was stolen by unprecedented obstruction and contempt. Instead, do to them what they have done to us. Sometimes, when they go low, we need to go lower, to protect a thing of great value.

The seat that became vacant when Antonin Scalia died earlier this year was blocked by the Republican party for 9 months for reasons that were transparently false from the outset. At first the senators obstructed the president’s pick of moderate Merrick Garland because they claimed Obama was a “lame-duck president” with only a year remaining in his term, and the “people” should be allowed, for the first time in history, to decide for themselves. Later, the reasons for obstruction changed when Senate Republicans began to run on the promise to block any nominees put forward by a Democratic president. Virtually all of those senators won their seats back on the strength of that pledge. Smart guys.

For Republicans, keeping the Supreme Court conservative was more urgent than governance or leadership or an independent judiciary. To reward that by meeting President Trump halfway on his nominees is not sober statesmanship. It’s surrender. Senate Republicans are already crowing that they can have a Justice Ted Cruz named in the coming days and seated by February. They can. But it is not his seat.

They stole it.

Realistically, what is left to do, aside from sending fresh fruit and a Vitamix to Justices Ginsburg and Breyer, is to figure out a way to make this a front-page story until January. Our choices now are to make a huge national fuss or to quietly and maturely accede to a Trump nominee, who will assuredly be on board for rolling back Roe v. Wade, protecting religious objectors from general laws, and expanding gun rights. We can hold out hope that Trump’s general lunacy and opportunism will lead him to seat someone wholly unpredictable, a kind of sweeps-week stunt nominee like Michelle Obama or Justice Omarosa or his son Barron. But for all that I have railed against destructive partisanship directed at fragile courts, I am persuaded now that the only way to answer nihilism is with nihilism of our own.

I doubt the Dems can ever match the Republicans in nihilism.

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