Justice​ Kennedy’s Retirement​ Brings With It A Lesson

We have a hold on to your butt’s moment, it’s about to get real in America. Justice Anthony Kennedy has decided to step down from his position as a supreme court justice, giving President Trump a chance to change the direction of the court for decades to come.

Trump’s ability to change the dynamic of the supreme court is terrifying for any Democrat. Big legal questions are going to need to be answered or upheld, such as a women’s right to choose, criminal justice reform (especially mass incarceration), environmental issues, and voting right issues just to name a few.

If you are grabbing for a brown paper bag because you’re about to have a full-on anxiety attack at the prospect of Trump picking a young, ideologue as a supreme court justice. Put down the bag and keep reading because there is a lesson to be learned and action you can take to change the outcome.

To learn our lesson, we first have to take a look back because history tends to repeat itself.

This story begins in 2014, it too was a midterm election year and the thing about midterms is that voter turnout usually sucks.

Americans vote for things like who can pop lock and drop it the best but when it comes to the stuff that matters like elections, we don’t always show up. Do you get where I’m headed?

The 2014 election was no exception. Turnout was a 72 year low at 36.3%, which turned out to be a big mistake. The spoils of victory went to Mitch McConnell, one of the most cynical men in Congress, who took that new-found power and blew up our democratic norms.

Republicans picked up nine Senate seats in 2014, giving them control of the Senate, a first since 2006. The 2014 mid-term elections set in motion the events that would follow the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia on February 13, 2016.

Mitch McConnel pulled off the great American heist when he denied President Obama his pick for a supreme court justice, a power bestowed upon him by the American people when he was twice elected president by popular vote.

Mitch McConnell had this to say at the time of this denial, ” As Senators, it leaves us with a choice. Will we allow the people to continue deciding who will nominate the next justice or will we empower a lame duck President to essential point… The Senate will withhold it. The Senate will appropriately revisit the matter after the American people finish making in November.”

We all know Mitch McConnell didn’t believe any of that because he has shown himself to be willing to bend or break the rules of senatorial convention to win. Mr. McConnell and his majority party Republican colleagues will postpone picking a supreme court judge in an election year, Presidential or not.

Mitch McConnell isn’t the man of principle, he has claimed to be in the past. He doesn’t possess a deeply rooted commitment to senatorial procedural norms. I refer you to Andrew Prokop beautifully written and researched piece Mitch McConnell is breaking the Senate as supporting evidence of my opinion. Mitch McConnel once said, “When the Senate is allowed to work the way it was designed to, it arrives at a result that’s acceptable to people all along the political spectrum,” But if it is used as “an assembly line for one party’s partisan legislative agenda,” then the consequence would be “instability and strife” rather than “good, stable law.” Oh, my how times have changed

Mitch McConnell is a man preoccupied with power and the continuation of Republican power long after his reign as majority leader is over. He made his mark on history because Democrats sat out 2014, giving him the path to a majority and the ability to make certain Merrick Garland didn’t get so much as a meeting with Republican Senators.

So, what’s the lesson?  It is that every election matters, Presidential or not. Each election cycle brings consequences big and small, which can have unforeseen and far-reaching consequences So, what do we do now?

First, call (202) 224-3121 and light up your Senator’s phone lines. You must keep the of issue of postponing the nomination of Kennedy’s replacement until after the mid-term elections front and center with your Senators. The constant pressure worked when Republicans threatened Obama Care and we need to rinse and repeat the tactic.   There is too much on the long-term line (the right to choose, voting rights and human rights to name a few) to remain silent.

Support for postponement of the nomination process matters the most in Republican-majority states with Democratic Senators, so if you are represented by Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, or Joe Donnelly call them. If they break ranks with the Democrats we are doomed. They need to know that their votes will determine base support and turnout for their election. This is their defining moment.

Democratic stonewalling won’t win the day. Two Republicans will need to break ranks.  once again, it is looking like Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins are the most important people in the room.

They have both said that they support Roe v Wade and the candidate’s views on the ruling would determine their votes.  But here is the thing; Trump ‘s short list for picks has the Federalist Society’s seal of approval.  Therefore, regardless of how well they stand up to Roe v Wade questioning during the confirmation hearings, they won’t support a women’s right to choose from the bench.  A vote for Trump’ s pick is a vote against choice. If Murkowski and Collins represent you, let them know that a vote for Trump’ s pick is a vote against choice.

Second; everyone needs to make sure they are registered to vote. Visit https://www.vote.org for everything related to voting. Because if you are not registered to vote on election day, you don’t get a say in the future of your country and this fight meant nothing.

The third and the final thing is to VOTE! From now until the time you leave this earth you need to be voting. Your vote matters in every election, from school board selection to Presidential and everything in between. Stay politically active and don’t lose sight of the importance of state and local government elections. This fight for a better government and delay in a Justice nomination could go south for Democrats. It is critical that we fill state houses and Governor’s mansion with Democrats who will do the nitty gritty governing needed to make sure women have a choice in their reproductive health and voting and human rights are not dismantled by a conservative court.

Be the change.