Nothing Is Supreme About the Highest Court Now

On Monday, the Senate Republicans voted to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. The vote was unusual—illegitimate, if you ask most progressives—in a series of ways. For one, not a single Democrat voted to confirm Barrett, which makes this the first time in more than 150 years a Supreme Court nominee has been put on the bench without a single minority party vote. And it’s also the first time in history that a Supreme Court judge has been confirmed so close to election day, which is just eight days away with nearly 60 million Americans having already voted.

But none of that is even the most dangerous—it’s this: this entire process, and Barrett’s willing participation in it, threatens to undermine the country’s confidence in the Supreme Court and the rule of law.

The Republican case for Barrett is that she’s a highly qualified nonpartisan judge who will rule according to the law, not act on her own whims. But that very claim is undercut by this disgraceful confirmation process, which is one of rule-breaking and partisan misbehavior.

Let me be clear about this: confirming Barrett is a shameful right-wing power-grab. It’s an effort by Republicans to cement minority rule for generations, and it flies in the face of both formal and informal Senate rules. Much of how our leaders behave isn’t written in a dusty rule book; it’s dictated by norm and custom, enforced through a system of honor and trust. Republicans have broken so many of these unwritten (but well-understood) rules that they’ve functionally broken American democracy.

Let me be clear about this: confirming Barrett is a shameful right-wing power-grab.

Remember when they refused to even put Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland up for a vote four years ago, arguing that because it was an election year, voters should get to decide? It was February, and the GOP hadn’t even selected a presidential candidate yet. Now, a week before the election, they’re breaking the rules they put into place—because they know that a lot of American voters don’t want this president and this Senate choosing the next Supreme Court justice.

What’s particularly repulsive is how unapologetic they are about it: They know they are circumventing the will of the American people, and they don’t care.

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