It’s becoming clearer that few Republican Senators will refuse to affirm a new SCOTUS nominee before the election. Both Cory Gardner and Chuck Grassley betrayed their prior statements against affirming a nominee in an election year and joined McConnell last night in support. Even if Mitt Romney says “No” to McConnell, the Democrats would still need one more defection to defeat McConnell before the election. Less clear is how Democratic Senators might stall the process enough to matter. Trump is promising to name a nominee by the end of the week and my money is on Barbara Lagoa, a recently appointed conservative judge on the Florida Supreme Court and the first Latina judge appointed to that court. Trump recently met with potential nominee and conservative darling judge Amy Coney Barrett, but Trump is a crass and mercenary politician, and makes every decision solely on its impact on his re-election chances. By nominating Lagoa, Trump would curry favor with the crucial Latino vote in Florida, and he would also curry favor more broadly with Florida voters, a crucial swing state where he is trailing in the polls–and where Michael Bloomberg is spending $100-million to help Biden, especially with the Latino vote.
Let’s assume Trump is able to seat another conservative judge on the Supreme Court before he’s voted out. How should Democrats respond? It’s becoming more and more obvious that, despite misgivings by centrist and establishment Democrats, the proper response (if we can take the White House and Senate) would be to expand the court with more judges. Some pundits say that expanding the court will somehow hurt the court or its legitimacy, but those arguments seem increasingly hollow and toothless. The court has been expanded several times in its history. Where is it written that the Supreme Court needs five or nine or eleven judges?? Why should there be a limit? Keep in mind that many Federal circuit courts have 12 judges and one, the 9th Circuit, has 29 judges. More judges seated on a court means more ideas and perspectives can be shared and considered. But just as importantly, an expanded court would allow for increased racial, gender, vocational and socio-economic diversity. A large court that looks like America would be far more just and equitable than a court resembling a 1950s country club. An expanded court should also decrease the importance of any one judge’s opinion, as well as any one judge’s retirement or demise. Mitch McConnell didn’t pay any political price for trashing decorum and exerting his full power to screw Obama out of a SCOTUS pick so please consider pushing hard for an expanded court if and when the time comes. If it’s within the rules, there should be no hesitation. Senators like Schumer may not have the backbone to fight against the scorched earth tactics of the shameless Republicans so it may be up to us to raise hell.
We should also be pushing hard for statehood for Puerto Rico, if they will accept, and for the District of Columbia.
In the mean time, we need to hand Trump and Senate Republicans and clear and convincing defeat, especially if Trump is planning on deploying dirty tricks to steal the election at the last minute. Please consider taking action with any of the following organizations who are doing crucial work as we race toward election week:
INDIVISIBLE is trying to flip the Senate and protect the Supreme Court:
SWING LEFT is working to get out the vote and increase turnout:
MOVE ON is mobilizing voters to increase turnout:
VOTE SAVE AMERICA is working to register voters and increase turnout:
TURNOUT PAC from the Progressive Turnout Project is getting out the vote:
Opportunities for volunteers include writing letters, sending text messages, and phone banking, all of which are very potent and effective. Indeed, Joe Biden has taken much of his campaign virtual, reaching millions of voters by Zoom, social media and cellphone rather than traditional door-knocking because his team believes the impact will be substantial. Voters want to feel safe yet important, and there are many ways to achieve that connection.
Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”