Alan Zendell, September 19, 2020
We are deeply saddened by the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. She fought for equal rights, not only for women, but for everyone. Because I honor her legacy, I will not attempt to memorialize her here. Many people far more qualified than I have already done that. The best thing I can do to honor her is help assure that the things she achieved are not lost.
The way to accomplish that is to immediately begin fighting against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s determined effort to fill her seat on the Supreme Court with yet another reactionary judge appointed by Donald Trump. If that sounds crass, consider that McConnell and Trump have been salivating over this moment for months, waiting for Ginsberg to die. The speed with which both men have pounced on the opportunity speaks for itself.
Trump and McConnell dislike each other almost as much as they are disliked by most of us. Their cynical lack of integrity, the only thing they have in common, shines brightly today. They cannot be allowed to succeed. Either McConnell must be stopped from bringing Trump’s nomination to a vote or at least four people in his caucus must be convinced to not support the effort.
If John McCain were still with us, we would only have to convince three Republican Senators. McCain’s integrity and patriotism would assure that he placed country over party as he did when McConnell tried to force through a health care bill that would have taken away coverage from more than twenty million Americans. But McCain’s ghost may wind up playing a critical role this time.
McCain’s former Senate seat was filled when Arizona Governor Doug Ducey appointed Martha McSally, but the law requires that she must stand for election this coming November to retain the seat. Astronaut Mark Kelly is contesting McSally and according to the polling website 538, currently leads her by eight percentage points.
An Arizona Superior Court judge recently ruled in a similar case that the winner of such a special election may be seated as soon as the victory is certified. Pointing to that case, Tim LaSota, a former general counsel for the Arizona Republican Party, said: “I think the law is clear that under such circumstances you don’t have to wait for the regular term to end. So I do think Mr. Kelly — if he does win and the canvass is in — he’d take office early… I’m obviously not biased in favor of Mark Kelly and will vote for Martha McSally [but] the law is the law.”
If Kelly were sworn in on November 30th, McConnell could afford to lose only two votes from his caucus, but fear not, he will try every trick in the book to prevent it. Whether he succeeds may depend on how hard the rest of us fight him. He has demonstrated an unscrupulous lust for power almost as extreme as Trump’s, but there’s hope that some in his caucus may feel differently.
Mitt Romney (UT) is one; Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) have both shown a willingness to stand up to Trump and McConnell, and Collins is in a desperate bid to hold onto her seat in November.
There are others, too. Marco Rubio (FL) was quite vocal in 2016 when McConnell refused to allow the Senate to vote on Barack Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Court. He said it was wrong then. What will he say now? And Lindsey Graham (SC) argued in 2016 that a president should never try to force a Supreme Court nomination through in the last year of his term. “If there’s a Republican president … and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination.” Of course, he reversed himself today, saying he would support whomever Trump nominated. Lindsey Graham can’t even be shamed by Lindsey Graham.
Keep in mind as you approach this that every sitting Senator’s first priority at all times is being re-elected. People like Joni Ernst (IA) and Cory Gardner (CO) are locked in difficult races. And there’s Lamar Alexander (TN) who claims that he deplores partisanship. Alexander is retiring in January. Is he more interested in loyalty to McConnell or his legacy?
The country didn’t need another crisis. Our democracy is being severely tested. But we can still use our voices and our checkbooks. If Trump and McConnell win this fight and you just sat on your hands watching, who are you going to blame?