I’m not even going to waste any time here typing about Trump, he wouldn’t know a smackdown if it bit him in the ass. But Moscow Mitch McConnell has to be a totally bummed out GOPasaurus right about now.
McConnell has often publicly bragged that the greatest legislative accomplishment of his life was holding departed Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat open more than 300 days so that Trump could appoint the replacement. In which case, the obvious lowlight of his career was in ramming through Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the last 30 days before the general election, making himself look like a sick, twisted, amoral piece of shit. And all so that she could be the insurance vote to strike down Obamacare, the GOP’s Holy Grail.
Well, the Supreme Court ruled today to uphold the ACA as law, with both Brewski Brett as well as Comey Barrett siding with the 7-2 majority. So much for the best laud plans of mice (Trump) and men (nominally McConnell). The Court copped out by declaring that the state Attorney’s General lacked the standing to file the suit in the first place, since they couldn’t prove injury from the law. This is true, but the lower court could easily have found that, and the appellate court affirmed it, saving us all of this sturm und drang.
Since the Kavanaugh debacle, I have written several times on the rulings of the court, and how I felt the Kavanaugh appointment fundamentally changed the court. Let’s be clear here, this is the Roberts Supreme Court, he’s the Chief Justice, it’s all on him. And after Kavanaugh was confirmed, the media began snidely calling it the Kavanaugh Court, since Kavanaugh was now the critical swing vote.
This couldn’t sit well with Roberts. I wrote at the time that this had the unintentional consequence of actually turning Roberts, not Kavanaugh into the ultimate swing vote. After all, it was Roberts’ reputation in history as a jurist at risk here, not Kavanaugh’s. And time and again, Roberts proved it, swallowing his conservative pride to swing to the liberal side to make sure the decision came out right. But when Coney Barrett was rammed through at the last moment, the prevailing dread was that Roberts became inconsequential, the Trombies on the court could now overrule him.
But apparently not. After all, Roberts is still the Chief Justice, and his word holds sway. While this was Barrett’s first dip in the pool, Kavanaugh had already voted in opposition to the wishes of El Pendejo Presidente in the past. As had Gorsuch.
As usual, Trump, the eternal egomaniac, had terribly miscalculated. During the nomination and confirmation process, Trump continually referred to the nominee as his pick, and bragged about how well the nominee lined up with his views. And on everything from immigration to the wall, from healthcare to the election results, Trump bragged about getting cases up to his Supreme Court so that the right ruling could be issued. Baby, did you back the wrong horse.
All you ever have to do is to appear in a traffic court or a divorce court, or even serve on jury duty to realize that the only people in the world with a larger ego than a judge is a rock star. Year after year, the two most hated professions in the United States are lawyers and politicians. And 80% of the judges in this country are politically connected lawyers. But throw a $60 polyester robe over their heads, and suddenly they are credited with the wisdom of Solomon. And they guard their superiority and independence jealously.
Of course, Trump fucked it up. He figured, What the hell? I already subjugated the Department of Justice into my own personal law firm, why not make the Supreme Court my personal rubber stamp for what’s legal and what isn’t? Typical Trump, but it doesn’t work that way in real life.
I have written before that nominating a Supreme Court justice is the ultimate crap shoot for a President. After leaving office in 1992, President George W Bush bitterly complained that his greatest disappointment was in nominating Davie Souter for the Supreme Court. Supreme Court justices regularly file decisions that butt heads with the President that appointed them to the bench. I am reminded of Ernie Judson sitting across the desk from Annie Potts on Ghostbusters, and she asked him, Do you believe in ghosts, the spirit world, extra terrestrials, EST and alien life forms? And Hudson looked across the desk at her and said, If there’s a job in it, I’ll believe whatever you say. That’s how it is for Supreme Court nominees. Say whatever it takes, once you get the robe, nobody can touch you.
Look, I’m not suggesting that this is some kind of kumbaya moment with the Roberts court. It is still a far right conservative court, and will regularly rule as such. But Roberts is running the court with his legacy in mind. And while lower court and appellate court rulings can show a trend, there is no way to know what’s in a Justice’s head when it comes to a particular case. Because Trump and the GOP caucus was so far insanely right, the natural tendency is to spatter that all over their nominees. Let’s just be a bit patient until we can get this mess unfucked.
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