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Tipsheet

Now vs. Then: Durbin Claims KBJ Confirmation Would Represent Arc of History Moving Toward Justice, But...

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool

The MLK-attributed quote in question is echoing is a familiar one, as President Barack Obama employed it often -- going so far as to have it stitched into his Oval Office rug.  Setting aside objections regarding about its provenance, and whether Obama and others are misapplying it by ignoring its context, it's an appealing sentiment to many progressives because it allows them to frame their ideological and political projects du jour as righteous.  The conspicuous implication is that their actions represent the 'right side of history,' very much unlike the objections of opponents.  Here's Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin dusting the quote off and rolling it out once again, this time in service of the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson:

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A central theme on the Left during this confirmation battle is that opposition to the nomination is at least somewhat rooted in racial animus and/or sexism, which surely was part of the entire strategy.  Identity politics is partially tied to high-minded notions of diversity and representation, but its hardcore practitioners and enforcers are far more consumed by the goal of power.  One of the reasons then-candidate Biden vowed to limit a future SCOTUS selection process to black women candidates was to appeal to this group, which would be pleased to see a (leftist) woman of color on the Court, but also highly motivated to demagogue critics of the nominee.  His race-and-sex-driven process wasn't popular with voters, but it has achieved its objectives.

Activists, Democrats, and journalists in both camps have embarrassed themselves by pretending that Judge Jackson's hearings were uniquely offensive.  Republican Senators who have decided to vote against her confirmation for ideological reasons -- in the Democrat-led modern tradition -- have been savaged as hacks and hypocrites.  The latest expression of this phenomenon is the explosion of fury directed at this anodyne announcement from Sen. Roy Blunt:

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He recognizes the historical nature of this impending confirmation, and why it's important within that context -- but he's not going to support someone whose judicial worldview conflicts with his beliefs.  There was a time, not long ago, that such differences, even profound ones, did not stop many Senators from the opposite party from voting in favor of a nominee.  There's an argument to be made that our politics would be healthier if that approach were restored.  But after years of unilateral escalations by Democrats, this process is now poisonous.  Blunt and nearly every other Republican (Susan Collins will vote yes, and a few others may be in play) are simply playing by the rules and standards established by Democrats.  It's good when Democrats do such things, you see, because the arc of history bends toward justice.  It's evil when Republicans do precisely the same thing, you see, because the arc of history bends toward justice.  That's the whole racket.

But Durbin's use of the 'justice arc' quote is useful in the sense that it fortifies my argument about the Left's identity fixation ultimately being about power politics.  If given a binary choice, would 'progressive' identitarians prefer a Supreme Court comprised of nine Stephen Breyers (cisgendered white men), or a kaleidoscope of nine highly 'diverse' right-wingers?  It wouldn't be a close call.  Outcomes first, everything else second. Durbin asserts that the elevation of a black women to the highest court in the land will be evidence of history's trajectory being pointed in the direction of progress, or whatever, but he and fellow Democrats have been personally and actively against similar 'diversity' milestones under previous circumstances:

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They literally put in writing that they were targeting and blocking a potential Supreme Court nominee because of his 'dangerous' skin color.  Then they launched a successful crusade to oust the Hispanic GOP staffer who found that memo and others in plain sight (there was no 'stealing' or 'hacking') and blew the whistle to the media.  I've also mentioned the example of Janice Rogers Brown, a black woman who Senate Democrats promised to filibuster if she were selected for the High Court by President Bush.  One man said he'd join that charge, making the threat on national television:

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Diversity, inclusion, and representation help shape history's direction for the better -- except when they don't.  Funny, that.  I'll leave you with this media mistake.  We've seen Chuck Schumer, who has played a major role in the toxification of the judicial wars, forget about Thurgood Marshall in a recent speech.  Someone at Politico evidently forgot about both black justices to date.  Oops:


The committee vote deadlocked yesterday, forcing a full Senate vote to discharge the nomination to the floor. Jackson is expected to be narrowly confirmed later this week.

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