While Donald Trump tweets, Mitch McConnell and William Barr are reshaping our legal system to be less democratic, more reactionary and with professional qualifications optional.
December 14, 2019

Ironically, it was McConnell, himself, who put a spotlight on this issue when he crowed to Sean Hannity about blocking judges under President Barack Obama and pushing through conservative ideologues under Trump.

This morning, Joy Reid played clips of McConnell boasts. “Basically Only Republicans are allowed to put people on the federal courts,” she said dryly.

Sadly, that is close to the literal truth. Reid’s guest, law professor Ryan Goodman, explained how devastatingly effective McConnell has been at packing the courts. When he blocked Merrick Garland, Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, McConnell made the Supreme Court an election issue, Goodman noted. Presumably, that helped galvanize some Trump voters.

Now, McConnell’s operation is on steroids. In three years, 50 Trump nominees have become circuit judges compared to Obama’s 55 in eight years, according to Goodman.

Those judges are not just conservative, they are far-right ideologues who are not necessarily qualified but will likely serve for decades.

REID: This is just one headline here: “The Senate confirms Trump's 50th circuit judge despite a ‘not qualified’ rating.” Trump nominee who is anti-IVF and anti-surrogacy was deemed unqualified, she was just confirmed. That was Sarah Pitlyk and [Lawrence] VanDyke, who were deemed unqualified by the American Bar Association. … [VanDyke] was deemed in every way by his own colleagues to be arrogant, to be self-satisfied, feel self-deserving, and not fit to be a judge, and they just confirmed him too..

“One quarter of all circuit judges right now are Trump appointees,” Goodman said. “Think about how that is remaking the bench. And like you said, the White House just boasted last month that the average age of the Trump appointees are under 50 years old.” That’s 10 years younger than Obama judges, Goodman said.

McConnell’s goal, Goodman believes, is to put “an anti-democratic brake” on an increasingly liberal American culture.

That’s bad enough. But Reid and Goodman pointed out that Attorney General William Barr is working in tandem with McConnell, making speeches to the Federalist Society, where the Trump nominees come from, and accusing progressives of taking over the country when their views are in the majority.

“And Barr is saying this in the most partisan terms possible which is extraordinary for the United States attorney general,” Goodman added. “So that is the architecture of this - it’s McConnell, Barr, they’re the big brains behind this operation.”

Goodman explained what their “50-year game” means for the country:

GOODMAN: It means a huge regression on all of those issues. And it also means voter suppression. It means gerrymandering and supporting that. It means supporting a lot of wealth and money coming into the Republican side on elections because of things like Citizens United. On all these fronts, it changes what Americans can do, it changes rights for Americans, especially LGBT Americans. As well, immigration rights - all of it, across the board. These are the very people that would stand in their way of having democratic choices to make on these issues.

As horrifying as all this is, just think what McConnell and Barr could do in a second Trump term. So even if the Democratic nominee is not your first choice, this just underscores the primary importance of getting these anti-democratic rogues out of office.

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