If GOP SCOTUS Plan Works, Democrats Should Act in Kind

Time for them to play 'constitutional hardball'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2020 3:13 PM CDT
Democrats Need to Play 'Constitutional Hardball'
A protester stands outside the house of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020.   (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

The Supreme Court is now Ruthless—and Democrats should be the same way if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell manages to "get a midnight Trump nominee to the Supreme Court confirmed" and Democrats take both the White House and Senate, writes Scott Lemiuex at NBC News. Lemiuex, a political science lecturer at the University of Washington, argues that Ginsburg's death has shown GOP leadership to "be wholly unscrupulous actors, committed to maximum short-term political gain irrespective" of long-term consequences or political norms. Democrats will be justified in playing "constitutional hardball" in response. Lemiuex says Democrats should consider not only expanding the court, but granting statehood to Puerto Rico and Washington, DC.

Lemiuex notes that another Trump judge will give the court a 6-3 conservative majority, although Democrats have won the popular vote in six out of the last seven presidential elections and are on course to make it seven out of eight. In the past, constitutional crises have erupted when opposition factions control the court and the closest parallel to the current situation is the "lame-duck court-packing of John Adams' administration, which led to a fierce legislative backlash from Thomas Jefferson's administration," he writes. If Republicans "firmly establish 'anything that is not strictly forbidden by the Constitution is permitted' as the de facto norm of governance," he concludes, "Democrats should act in kind should they win in November." Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer apparently agrees: He warned Saturday that "nothing is off the table for next year" if Senate Republicans push ahead with their plans. (More Ruth Bader Ginsburg stories.)

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