Furious Democrats are considering total war — profound changes to two branches of government, and even adding stars to the flag — if Republicans jam through a Supreme Court nominee then lose control of the Senate.
On the table: Adding Supreme Court justices … eliminating the Senate’s 60-vote threshold to end filibusters … and statehood for D.C. and Puerto Rico. “If he holds a vote in 2020, we pack the court in 2021,” Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) tweeted.
Of course, Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) won’t be in the House next year, since he lost the gamble of challenging Ed Markey for his Senate seat. But I don’t believe there is any chance the Democrats won’t keep the majority in the House.
In response to Mike Allen, Josh Marshall grumbled,
Set aside the absurd reference to “even adding stars to the flag” – adding new states is a prescribed and orderly process under the constitution. (If anything keeping geographical communities perpetually stateless runs against the assumptions of the constitution.) The most flagrant GOP lawlessness and rules breaking is **expected**. Democrats even suggesting responding something like in kind is “total war.”
So much commentary could be profitably assigned to this basic difference in perception and description. But it shapes the entire dialogue about American politics.
Certainly, Nancy Pelosi is talking tough.
“We have our options. We have arrows in our quiver that I’m not about to discuss right now but the fact is we have a big challenge in our country. This president has threatened to not even accept the results of the election,” Pelosi told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos. “Our main goal would be to protect the integrity of the election as we protect the people from the coronavirus.”
As I wrote yesterday, Republicans are holding most of the cards right now. It’s very unlikely that they won’t be able to confirm some right-wing wackjob to the court before the inauguration, if not before the election. However, an acrimonious fight over a nominee who is revealed to be an extremist — and we can count on the nominee being an extremist — could help Democrats take the Senate, I believe. It could tip the balance against some Republican incumbents in purple states And even the infamously squishy Ruth Marcus is reconciled to court packing.
Under ordinary circumstances I would consider such court-packing unwise. Under the circumstances of two stolen seats, I would be hard-pressed to argue against it, and against the court-expanding arms race that would unleash.
There might not be an arms race if Dems institute some voting rights reforms and make political gerrymandering illegal. Republicans would be hard-pressed to take back any part of Congress until the party undergoes some significant reforms. Like stop being nuts.
I am hoping the Trump-McConnell-Bill Barr etc. administration has finally lit a fuse under the Democrats so that they stop bringing knives to gunfights, so to speak. The current Republican Party has to be crushed if the nation is to regain anything resembling constitutional, republican government, never mind democracy, and respect among other nations.
See also Kara Voght at Mother Jones, Democrats Really Might Try to Pack the Courts.