The Trump-McConnell Judicial Machinations – Unintended Justice
Donald Trump is indisputably the most despicable president in our nation’s history, but he could not have accomplished nearly all that evil without the indispensable assistance of Mitch McConnell, the long-time Senate Republican leader.
But now, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the two of them have unintentionally performed a great mitzvah (Yiddish for good deed) for our nation.
During President Trump’s four years in office, he and McConnell worked in tandem to stack the federal Judiciary – and especially the U.S Supreme Court – with as many rightwing judges and justices as they possibly could.
And from the decisions made by South Florida’s District Judge Aileen Cannon to Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, one could see just how productive the Trump-McConnell partnership has been.
McConnell, who is nothing if not duplicitous, was able to squeeze through the Supreme Court nominations of two Republican justices who should never have been nominated – Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett. He managed this feat with a political sleight of hand so transparent that it was embarrassing to most Republican senators, although none dared to cross their leader.
One hour after the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia, an archconservative, McConnell announced that because of the closeness of the next presidential election, less than nine months away, the vacancy should be filled by a nominee of the next elected president. And so, President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, would not even be granted a hearing by the Senate Judicial Committee – let alone a vote.
Surely it is poetic justice that Garland, President Biden’s attorney general, is now aggressively pursuing a multitude of possible legal cases against Trump. While he clearly has far too much class to gloat, Garland must be thinking to himself that not getting a seat on the Supreme Court was the best thing that ever happened to him.
Soon after the next president, Donald Trump, took office, he nominated Neil Gorsuch – a reliable right-winger – who was duly confirmed by the Republican controlled Senate. So, he got the seat that should have gone to Garland.
Nearly four years later, Ruth Bader Ginsburg – a long-serving progressive justice -- died just two months before the next presidential election. Surely McConnell, following the precedent he had established, would hold off on considering a presidential nomination for her replacement until after the winner of the next presidential election was installed.
But McConnell, unapologetically, did a complete 180 degree turn, rushing through outgoing President Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett – a reliably rightwing Republican. But what about the will of the American voters? Screw ‘em!
So, Barrett got the seat that President Biden would have filled. Now had McConnell played fair, the progressives would have had a clear majority on the Supreme Court and Roe vs. Wade would not have been overturned.
The overturn of Roe vs. Wade, of course, was the crowning glory of the Trump-McConnell partnership. Snatching away a woman’s right to choose was a wonderful gift to the Christian fundamentalists, but it enraged tens of millions of American women. And they will surely register that rage at the polls on November 8th – and again in the 2024 election.
The Roe vs. Wade Decision
Now, let’s consider the political performances of the justices and judges that Trump and McConnell pushed through the Senate confirmation process. By far, the most profound effect was the reversal of the 1972 Roe vs. Wade decision that protected every American woman’s right to choose.
Two of the justices voting to overthrow Roe were Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett, who owed their confirmations to the political machinations of Mitch McConnell. In addition, a third Trump appointee, Brett Kavanaugh – along with rightwing Republican holdover Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito – provided the needed five-vote majority. So, this decision was by far, the biggest political payoff for Trump and McConnell.
But now we come to the first unintended result of the Trump-McConnell judicial machinations – the political firestorm that Roe’s repeal set off, possibly upending the expected results in the 2022 Congressional elections.
Tens of millions of very angry women, upset over the sudden denial of a woman’s right to choose whether or not to carry her pregnancy to term, are considering switching from voting for Republican to Democratic.
This may end up costing the Republicans the chance to regain control of either or both houses of Congress. It may also give the Democrats a much better chance of holding on to the presidency in 2024.
In the weeks after his loss to Democrat Joe Biden in his 2020 presidential reelection bid, Trump brought suit in over sixty federal district courts in the seven battleground states claiming – without offering any proof – that the election had been stolen from him. He lost every time, his lawyers often being laughed out of court. Especially galling was that many of these judges had been appointed by Trump himself.
The Battle Between Department of Justice And Trump
In the most recent judicial procedure involving judges appointed by Trump – the battle between the Department of Justice and Trump over the classified documents he took with him after leaving the White House -- he was able to get the case assigned to a South Florida district judge he had appointed just weeks before he left office.
His strategy worked to perfection. Judge Aileen Cannon sided with Trump’s lawyers on virtually every issue he had with the FBI raid of his Mar-a-Lago estate last month and the removal of about one hundred classified documents.
The Justice Department appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, a majority of whose judges are Trump appointees. A three-judge panel unanimously ruled in favor of the Justice Department. One of the judges was appointed by President Barack Obama and the other two were Trump appointees.
In each of these pivotal political battles, the Trump-McConnell judicial machinations have come back to bite them. And so, however sinister their intentions, they have unwittingly ensured that justice was done.