NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, October 28th, 2020

How will the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett affect the United States Senate?

Top Sen­ate Repub­li­can Mitch McConnell’s efforts to jam the nom­i­na­tion of Amy Coney Bar­rett to the Supreme Court before Tuesday’s elec­tion were relent­less to the point of seem­ing des­per­ate – turn­ing the “advise and con­sent” role of the Sen­ate into a farce, dele­git­imiz­ing the nom­i­nee, and break­ing Sen­ate rules in the process – but he had his way on Mon­day, when the upper cham­ber of Con­gress con­firmed Barrett’s nom­i­na­tion by fifty-two votes to forty-eight votes.

The ele­va­tion of Bar­rett enlarges the Supreme Court’s right wing bloc and could have the effect of secur­ing minor­i­ty rule for the Repub­li­cans for years to come.

Amy Coney Barrett taking an oath duwing a Senate hearing

Amy Coney Bar­rett tak­ing an oath dur­ing a Sen­ate hear­ing (Pho­to: Lucy Sanders, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons license)

The vote itself demon­strat­ed the extrem­ism that now defines the Repub­li­can Par­ty; only one Repub­li­can (Susan Collins of Maine, who is fac­ing a tough re-elec­­tion fight) vot­ed against rub­ber-stam­p­ing Barrett’s absurd­ly rushed nom­i­na­tion, while every oth­er Repub­li­can sen­a­tor blithe­ly got in line… even Lisa Murkowski.

The vote also showed how unde­mo­c­ra­t­ic the U.S. Sen­ate has become. The fifty-two sen­a­tors who vot­ed “yes” rep­re­sent 152 mil­lion Amer­i­cans, while the minor­i­ty of forty-eight rep­re­sent more than 170 million!

Mitch McConnell seemed to want to draw atten­tion to the dis­par­i­ty in his com­ments after the con­fir­ma­tion: “The rea­son we were able to do what we did in 2016, 2018 and 2020 [refer­ring to three Supreme Court nom­i­na­tions] is because we had the major­i­ty.” In 2016 and 2018, Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­ate can­di­dates won 56% and 60% of the vote respec­tive­ly, and yet Repub­li­cans held on to control!

How­ev­er, McConnell and his cronies can­not rely on the struc­tural­ly rigged archi­tec­ture of the Sen­ate to help them for­ev­er – polls sug­gest that Democ­rats are on the cusp of reclaim­ing con­trol for the fist time since 2014, which is part of the rea­son for their haste to con­firm Barrett.

As Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren put it, “they have real­ized a truth that shakes them down to their core: The Amer­i­can peo­ple are not on their side.”

McConnell’s rush may have actu­al­ly harmed his party’s prospects. Although polling is unclear over whether the rushed con­fir­ma­tion helps or harms the Repub­li­cans, the fact is that McConnell chose to focus on pack­ing the Supreme Court, rather than con­firm­ing any leg­is­la­tion that would help the vic­tims of COVID-19.

The nov­el coro­n­avirus that caus­es COVID-19 has been par­tic­u­lar­ly dev­as­tat­ing in a num­ber of states with close Sen­ate races, and vot­ers are unlike­ly to reward their Repub­li­can incum­bents for obsess­ing over the Supreme Court while slam­ming the brakes on get­ting much-need­ed pan­dem­ic relief to constituents.

The Biden team seems aware of the pos­si­bil­i­ties that McConnell’s ruth­less dis­re­gard for the Amer­i­can peo­ple could bring. Joe Biden’s cam­paign sched­ule has seen him vis­it a num­ber of states (includ­ing Texas, Iowa and Geor­gia) where Democ­rats have a pos­si­bil­i­ty of win­ning Sen­ate seats.

His pres­ence will like­ly boost enthu­si­asm for these candidates.

The great irony for Mitch McConnell is that his ruth­less deter­mi­na­tion to secure rule by the few through ger­ry­man­der­ing and the courts could ulti­mate­ly result in all his work being undone. The Repub­li­cans’ unhinged rad­i­cal­ism in these last days of Trump has per­suad­ed many Democ­rats (even many “insti­tu­tion­al­ists”) that major changes are need­ed to make the coun­try more small “d” democratic.

Sup­port is grow­ing for projects like expand­ing the Supreme Court and giv­ing state­hood to Puer­to Rico and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia – projects that would like­ly spell doom for the Repub­li­can Party’s con­trol of nation­al politics.

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One Comment

  1. It nev­er ceas­es to amaze me how the Repub­li­cans skeem and plot to get their way to put their can­di­dates on the Supreme Court. Mitch McConnell is very good at it. He under­hand­ed­ly refused to even con­sid­er Gar­land though he was very qualified.
    It’s way past time that Mitch will be replaced by some­one who respects the Supreme the and how it affects the lives of all Americans.
    Ken­tucky ben­e­fits from McConnell send­ing all sorts of good­ies their way. His wife is head of the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and her fam­i­ly is in the ship­ping business.
    Inter­est­ing stuff.

    # by Margaret Davies :: October 29th, 2020 at 9:09 PM