Durbin: C'mon, No One Is Seriously Talking About Court Packing

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Posted: Sep 25, 2020 10:35 AM
Durbin: C'mon, No One Is Seriously Talking About Court Packing

Source: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool

Oh really? It was only an emerging litmus test during this cycle's Democratic presidential primary, with multiple candidates -- including "moderates," and the party's current vice presidential nominee -- favoring some form of it. And that was before the RBG vacancy and the current round of intense histrionics. We have witnessed figures like CNN's legal analyst (who seems strangely fixated on abortion) openly discussing it as a tool Democrats could use if they win power. We've seen the Senate minority leader hold a press conference with one of the most radical members of Congress, in which they both pledged that everything would be "on the table" if Republicans fulfill their constitutional role and adhere to clear precedent by moving to fill the seat. Conservatives didn't invent this as a conspiracy theory. Conservatives are sounding the alarm about it because the Left is pushing it -- hard. So color me skeptical that this statement from a member of Senate Democratic leadership should be interpreted as reassuring:

So, that's not a "no." It's not even a "probably not."  It's a "let's all move on." Meanwhile, Schumer is explicitly not ruling it out, and Joe Biden -- who was flat-out opposed to court-packing just a few months ago -- has changed his tune. It's now obvious that his team has workshopped an answer, which is to call it a "distraction" and refuse to respond to the fundamental question. Here he is again:

If you're running a mostly-silent, moderate, norms-restoring, "normalcy" campaign, repeatedly ducking questions about blowing up one or more core institutions of American governance after you win is not a distraction. It's an absolutely crucial question. And it seems as though some Senate candidates seeking to throw Republicans out of office are adopting the same approach, including Joni Ernst's opponent in Iowa. Meanwhile, as they gear up for an unhinged onslaught against President Trump's forthcoming Supreme Court nominee, some Senate Democrats are whispering to reporters that Dianne Feinstein is too old and weak to manage their side of the judiciary committee. This comes, not coincidentally, shortly after Feinstein appeared to reject the idea of ending the legislative filibuster if her party wins back the majority. The harder-core Democratic Party has less and less use for institutionalist dinosaurs anymore (unless they need them to win a national election), and they're saying so out loud:

Interviews with more than a dozen Democratic senators and aides show widespread concern over whether the California Democrat is capable of leading the aggressive effort Democrats need against whoever President Donald Trump picks to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg...Feinstein sometimes gets confused by reporters’ questions, or will offer different answers to the same question depending on where or when she’s asked. Her appearance is frail. And Feinstein's genteel demeanor, which seems like it belongs to a bygone Senate era, can lead to trouble with an increasingly hard-line Democratic base uninterested in collegiality or bipartisan platitudes...

A Democratic senator, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said a group of Feinstein’s colleagues want Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) or Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) to serve as the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel for the upcoming nomination hearings, which are expected to be extraordinarily contentious. This senator is worried that potential missteps by Feinstein could cost Democrats seats. “She’s not sure what she’s doing,” the Democratic senator said of Feinstein. “If you take a look at Kavanaugh, we may be short two senators because of that. And if this gets [messed] up, it may be the same result.”

That last bit is revisionism at its finest. By several accounts, Feinstein tried to prevent her party from sprinting off the cliff with Kavanaugh, but they undermined her leadership, behaved disgracefully, and in the subsequent election, Republicans unseated four incumbents who went along with the sick circus that Feinstein was obviously uncomfortable about unleashing in the first place. It's also amusing to note that Democrats want a powerful female chairwoman replaced by a man because she's supposedly doddering and increasingly reliant on staff -- which is also a description that may apply to a certain presidential nominee. For her part, Feinstein doesn't sound too happy about these efforts to shove her aside: "Feinstein pushed back hard against suggestions she could no longer effectively serve as ranking member of the Judiciary panel or is incapable of handling the upcoming nomination fight. 'I’m really surprised and taken aback by this. Because I try to be very careful and I’m puzzled by it,' Feinstein told POLITICO. 'My attendance is good, I do the homework, I try to ask hard questions. I stand up for what I believe in.'" Does this count as "Dems in disarray"?

I'll leave you with Mitch McConnell, who's been on a roll this week, giving another strong floor speech highlighting the Left's tiresome yet destructive playbook whenever a Republican president has an opportunity to appoint a Supreme Court justice. And Professor Robert George of Princeton is sadly correct that a lot of this feverish madness can be traced back to one toxic decision: