Saturday, April 8, 2017

Repukes Will Pay Dearly For Their Arrogance In Trashing The Filibuster

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The Repukes have done it, as most of us thought they would. They changed the dynamic of the Senate rules forever - and put themselves at risk when a future minority - by killing the filibuster. Gorsuch was approved by a vote of 54 to 45 after a marathon three-day hearing, a floor debate that included an all-night protest by Democratic senator Jeff Merkley and a historic rules change that allowed his nomination to go forward on a simple majority. The White House said on Friday that Trump would swear in Gorsuch on Monday morning.

Mike Pence presided over the Senate chamber as senators filed in to cast their votes. In the final tally, three Democrats joined Republicans to confirm Gorsuch: Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana. One senator, Republican Johnny Isakson of Georgia, did not vote.

Gorsuch is from Colorado and for the past decade, he has served on the 10th circuit court of appeals, after being appointed to that seat in 2005 by George W Bush,  His most controversial case on the 10th occurred following the death of a 22 year old kid with a hear condition who was aggressively tased by cops near an MJ grow. His parents  filed a lawsuit asking for a trial based on excessive force but Gorsuch tossed it out. He invoked what he called "holofied immunity"  which protects all law enforcement from civil liability for damages. So even if the cops were to crash into your home  in a patrol car while on a chase, and accidentally killed grammy sitting in her rocker, Gorsuch would dismiss the case.

Gorsuch later achieved infamy as the guy who put forward the whacko argument for the Hobby Lobby case, in which the company's owners were entitled to exemption from the ACA's contraception provision based on their individual religious beliefs.  The outrage at the time was upper decibel level, with one Philly-based federal appeals court pithily objecting that:

Businesses do not pray, worship, observe sacraments or take other religiously motivated actions.”

This was important, given historically  the Court has never recognized a for profit corporation's "religious rights" under federal law or the Constitution.  But Gorsuch's ruling took no account of that at all, apart from the nonsense of referring to corporations as "people"- which only a madman would do.

Gorsuch also presided over a ruling for the Little Sisters of the Poor.   The Little Sisters yelped about being "forced" to provide artificial contraception to public employees of theirs against their conscience. This was via the Affordable Care Act. They were then offered a way out where all they had to do is simply sign a form to be granted an exception and they pitched a fit about that too. They claimed the very act of signing the exemption form would also detract from their "religious freedom" - and in his ruling in their favor Gorsuch concurred.

Even though he kept mum during his confirmation hearings, Gorsuch showed by his past rulings a background we don't want and can't afford - especially as he's only 49 years of age, and could be on the Court decades. So we could see one dastardly ruling after another including: further undermining worker protections and turning corporate employees into indentured servants, expanding the basis for even more corporate welfare, and enabling money to totally dominate and corrupt our politics for a generation.

Another reason for energetic Dem opposition - much of it fueled by an angry base-is the prospect that only one more change in the court is needed to directly threaten Roe v. Wade. As it is, Anthony Kennedy is considering retirement within the next 1-2 years and now it is a certainty another hard right justice would be appointed. At least Kennedy, say what you will - did side with the liberals some of the time.

The other  filibuster driver was Merrick Garland's Supreme Court seat having been "stolen" by the Repukes. They sat on their asses for nearly a year after Obama's nomination of  Garland and didn't even have the grace or courtesy to allow a hearing. Not even a hearing. Some Reepo Senators went so far at the time to insist that even if Hillary won they'd hold off any Supreme Court hearings for her picks - whether 4 years, 8 years, whatever. In other words, the unspoken new rule was that Democrats didn't get to make SC picks.  Moreover, to add insult to outrage, Sen. 'Bitch McConnell and fellow reptiles had threatened to block any Hillary SC picks had she won the election.

Hence, liberals have been justly enraged and not prepared to see the Senate Dems allow anyone to get through a Supreme Court nomination. Gorsuch, nice guy though he may  be  - and even relatively "mainstream" as extremists go-  is simply caught in the crossfire of political  polarization. Which is too bad, but then Merrick Garland was too, and at least Gorsuch will get his hearing.

Another issue that got liberals' dander up was the false argument that "Dems started it  by shelving the filibuster" back in 2013 to get Obama lower court nominees through. But we're talking chalk and cheese. Dozens of lower, appeals court picks being obstructed gums up the entire judicial system  - it's not any remote parallel to filibustering one SC pick. But try to explain that to dumb repukes.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren delivered one of the most articulate objections to Gorsuch condirmation:

"President Trump had a chance to select a consensus nominee to the Supreme Court but to the surprise of absolutely nobody he failed that test. Instead he kept a promise to select a nominee from a list drawn up by far right activists and groups that were financed by big Business interests.

Judge Gorsuch has been on this list for four months. His public record, which I have viewed in detail, paints a clear picture of his record. Before even joining the (federal) bench he advocated for making it even easier for public companies to defraud investors.

As a judge he twisted himself into a pretzel to make sure rules favored giant companies over workers and individual Americans. He sided with employers who denied wages for improperly fired workers and retaliated against whistle blowers for 'misconduct'.  He's ruled against workers in all manner of discrimination cases.

He's demonstrated hostility toward women's access to basic health care. For years, powerful interests have executed a full scale assault on our federal judiciary, trying to turn the Supreme Court into one more rigged game that works only for the rich and powerful. 

They spent millions to keep this seat open and Judge Gorsuch is their reward."

Flash forward to McConnell's travesty yesterday. The narrow R-victory, split mostly along party lines, illustrates the entrenched political polarization in Washington and an indicator of how future battles over supreme court nominees might be decided. Republicans’ decision to “go nuclear” to bypass a Democratic blockade could actually come back to haunt them. This is assuming the Dems take back the Senate in next year's midterms, as I predict they will (along with the House).

Then it will be time for payback, and payback is always a bitch. Enraged and activated liberals will be pushing Senate Dems - in any new Trump SC appointments post 2018 - to put on a full on blockade and even to deny hearings for his picks. Especially if hard-righters.   Rachel Maddow asked last night "Is this the new normal?" and I am convinced it is given that is what the Repubs established by their crass and punitive actions, both by denying Merrick Garland and killing the filibuster.

As Dahlia Lithwick, Slate senior editor and Justice correspondent put it in answer to Maddow's question:

"Yes, I think this happens now forever. I think something fundamental broke. What we learned and it was from Mitch McConnell, is when he said 'obstructing Merrick Garland was one of the proudest moments of is career' so this is about power now. It's not about putting up a centrist or mainstream judge the Senate can agree on. It's not about Senate norms that suggest Supreme Court justices are different. Now it's just about power after winning elections and putting the most extreme person up knowing you just need 51 votes to get them in. I don't see this unrolling."

And, on the flip side, if the party lacks those 51 votes, it's abut stuffing that nomination dead in the water - as the Dems will be required to do if they get a majority - or face payback from the base. Ms. Lithwick justifies this strategy when she referred to the Dems having been extraordinarily "moderate" in allowing the likes of Roberts, as well as Alito to get through (thanks to the 'gang of six' traitors).  But now it is no more Mr. Nice Guy Dem.  Time to bring Uzis to the Senate "gunfights" instead of Robert's Rules of Order.

Welcome to the new world order and thank Bitch McConnell for bringing it.

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