McGrath: Your Voice Matters to Republican Leaders –– Until It Doesn’t


Photo by Gage Skidmore, courtesy of Creative Commons

By Mackenzie McGrath, Opinion Writer


Led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the vultures that are Republican officials have been watching and waiting for the next pillar of American democracy to croak and die on the side of the highway so they could swoop in to devour it. And it happened. As if this election hasn’t been chaotic and uncanny enough, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away — leaving a hole to be filled in the nation’s highest court. Hours after the Supreme Court announced her death, McConnell promised the Senate would vote on Donald Trump’s nomination. Now, Trump has the votes he needs to nominate a new justice.

Choosing the nomination for an open seat in the Supreme Court is the president’s constitutional right, but as McConnell himself said in 2016, “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

After Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in early 2016, McConnell declared any appointment by then-President Obama to be null and void on the basis of it being an election year. Speaking to supporters, the Senator has reminisced, “One of my proudest moments was when I looked Barack Obama in the eye and I said, ‘Mr. President, you will not fill the Supreme Court vacancy.'” But following Justice Ginsburg’s passing just weeks before the 2020 election, McConnell has rallied his loyal troops in the Senate to appoint Trump’s new nomination. Clearly, McConnell finds it acceptable and justified to be transparently hypocritical in the name of protecting his party.

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham has been no less hypocritical. In 2016, he openly encouraged people to “use my words against me” when referring to his stance on appointing a new justice during the last year of a presidential term. Back then, he agreed that the American peoples’ votes should be their voice. Now, he’s changed his mind, and the GOP will support Trump’s nomination. Even Senator Mitt Romney has voted to hold confirmation hearings for Trump’s SCOTUS nominee, after voting to remove Trump from office for committing high crimes earlier this year. Apparently, he believes someone who is unfit as president due to criminal behavior should still have the power to lock in a lifetime Supreme Court justice. Got it.

In light of all this, I have to ask Republican voters — are you truly satisfied being complicit in this complete and utter hypocrisy? These leaders aren’t even attempting to hide behind political jargon. They are blatantly asking you to use their words against them and then evading the consequences of their actions. Your party’s leaders believe you and the American people should have a voice only when it benefits them.

If they confirm Trump’s nominee, there will be a 6-3 conservative majority on the court for decades. When Ginsburg passed, the election was less than 46 days away. No Supreme Court Justice has been nominated and confirmed in such a short time frame. The average time is 67 days.

Not only will citizens not have a voice in the nomination, but they also didn’t really have a voice in Trump’s election — remember, he didn’t win the popular vote in 2016. His senate coalition doesn’t reflect the popular majority, and now the Supreme Court won’t either. Why does the Republican party even pretend to listen to the “people’s voice?” For a party who claims to value life, it seems blatantly disrespectful that they didn’t even wait 24 hours after RBG’s passing to start discussing a vote on her replacement. Now, Republicans will pick apart her career like roadkill, looking to incinerate whatever legal precedents and policies they don’t like.

Trump has nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace Justice Ginsburg. It’s as if he wants us to be amazed — and more importantly, satisfied — by his choice of a woman, when this shouldn’t be an applaudable act. Regardless of gender, Barrett still has the potential to roll back abortion rights and invalidate the Affordable Care Act. For Republican leaders, Barrett’s nomination isn’t a matter of gender representation or equality — it’s about upholding legislation in their favor. Gaining control over the Supreme Court is clearly an elaborate power play to destroy the GOP’s least favorite things, Obamacare and reproductive rights.

Enhancing the court’s conservative majority will guarantee lawful privileges to the powerful and undermine legal protections for the less powerful — the working class, people of color, women and members of the LGBTQ+ community. When the Senate inevitably confirms Judge Barrett, she will not represent America’s vote or voice — she’ll be a threat to Americans’ well-being.


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