Nothing threatens the progressive project more than the existence of a Supreme Court that adheres to the Constitution. It’s really that simple.
That’s what the tantrum over Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation is all about. The notion that the same Democrats who shelved the judicial filibuster and now threaten to destroy the separation of powers with a Court-packing revenge scheme — the same people, incidentally, so fond of smear-drenched confirmation hearings — are sticklers for process or decorum is simply ludicrous.
For one thing, no norms have been undone by the confirmation of Barrett. If Democrats won a Senate majority in 2016, Merrick Garland would already be ensconced in the Supreme Court, election or no election. Many of the same Democrats now feigning outrage over Barrett’s confirmation, including Joe Biden, argued back then that it was the constitutional duty of the Senate to take up a vote. Our living constitution apparently offers contradicting directions from one election to the next.
If Trump had nominated Garland to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Democrats wouldn’t have any problem placing him on the Court — not even on November 2. Liberals act as if they are imbued with a theological right to dictate not only the terms, but also the nominees, of confirmation hearings whether they win or lose elections.
And when you’re under the impression that the system exists solely to facilitate your partisan agenda, something will seem “broken” every time you lose. When Barack Obama was unable to pass his agenda after 2010, the system suffered from “dysfunction.” How many times did we hear that term? But now that Democrats are in the Senate minority, employing the very same tools to slow the president, we must “fix” the Electoral College, the Senate, and, most recently, the Supreme Court.