Make no mistake. If the Supreme Court has become a starkly political entity, Mitch McConnell is to blame for that. In February of 2016 Justice Scalia passed away, tragically suddenly. Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee, would have replaced Justice Scalia, and been a fine Supreme Court justice. Mitch McConnell preferred to hamper the Court’s full functioning by limiting the Court to eight sitting justices, for over a year! When Justice Kennedy retired in 2018, presumably Neil Gorsuch would have been the nominee, and would have been confirmed. When Justice Ginsburg saw the end of her days just six weeks before the 2020 presidential election, again Mitch McConnell flouted our common sense of simple decency and flagrantly revealed his hypocrisy by pushing through the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett a week before the election. Astoundingly, Mitch McConnell takes the view that it’s Democrats who have been politicizing the Court.
In any decent world, the new President would have had the opportunity to make that appointment, and the Court might well have had Justice Jackson well over a year ago. Take a moment to imagine – if things had gone differently – a Court with Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Garland, Jackson, Kagan, Sotomayor, Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch, and one more appointment to replace Justice Breyer upon his retirement.
As we move into this election cycle and reflect on the Senate’s vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act this past week, remember and take seriously Mitch McConnell’s record of smashing long-held norms in the Senate. Expect more of the same, on steroids. Don’t be misled, like Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), when she voted to approve Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and when she voted against impeachment of the former President. Our eyes have been opened. It’s painful to go back and think “what might have been” but this election season, we must.
Susan Taylor, Newport