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McConnell seems increasingly nervous Republicans could lose big next year

Mitch McConnell wants to keep the Supreme Court under Republican control no matter who holds the White House.

By Lisa Needham - August 30, 2019
Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appears to be worried that Trump isn’t going to win in 2020. At least, that’s one explanation for his promise to “protect” the Supreme Court from Democrats.

McConnell, along with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), got all Republican senators to sign on to a highly unusual letter to the Supreme Court. In it, the GOP senators praise themselves for “reject[ing] this dangerous and opportunistic assault on our independent judiciary and will continue to uphold our oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The “intimidation” the GOP senators are speaking of is an excerpt from a friend-of-the-court brief filed by five Democratic senators in a gun control case pending at the United State Supreme Court. Unsurprisingly, McConnell has utterly overstated and twisted the meaning of what the Democrats had to say.

The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it. Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be “restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.” Particularly on the urgent issue of gun control, a nation desperately needs it to heal.

McConnell characterizes this as an assault on the court. First, it says something about McConnell that he finds a plea that the nation comes together and heal over gun violence so troublesome. But what McConnell seems to be focusing on is the language about the Court needing to be “restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.”

McConnell fails to explain that this language is a quote from a poll the Democratic senators refer to elsewhere in the brief. They even cite to it, something else McConnell deliberately obscures. That Quinnipiac poll found that 55% of Americans believe the Supreme Court is “mainly motivated by politics” and a majority believes the “Supreme Court should be restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.”

The Democrats weren’t issuing a threat; they were issuing a warning and a plea — a plea that the Supreme Court turn away from its partisan politics and return to being a trusted branch of government. The phrase quoted by the Democratic senators doesn’t even explicitly mention court-packing. There are any number of proposals to fix the broken judiciary, including term limits and more stringent financial disclosures.

Perhaps the reason such nuance is lost on McConnell is that he’s not particularly interested in the importance of the Court as an institution. If he were, he wouldn’t have blocked Merrick Garland from receiving a hearing, and he would have required a full and fair investigation into the highly credible allegations against Brett Kavanaugh.

McConnell also seems to be trying to lay the groundwork to undermine Democratic victories in 2020. Though he’s happily ignored the rules of the Senate multiple times to get his way, he now pleads for the Democrats to adhere to the 60-vote requirement for the filibuster should they take back the Senate. He also bragged that if a Democrat wins the presidency, he’ll be the “grim reaper” and ensure no laws get passed.

There’s only one party that is trying to undermine the courts and democracy itself, and it isn’t the Democrats.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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