Moscow Mitch McConnell's total obsession with overturning the federal judiciary really knows no bounds. He's prioritized it above everything, including safeguarding the nation's health during a global pandemic that is shutting down large swathes of the country. The Senate majority leader is so obsessed that he's even trying to push federal judges into retirement.
He's leaning particularly on "judges nominated by Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush and George W. Bush," telling them that "making the change now would be advantageous," The New York Times’ Carl Hulse reports. McConnell's sense of urgency is apparently driven by the likelihood that Donald Trump won't be in office another four years, as well as the fact that the Republican Senate majority is teetering right now. Never mind that further packing the courts with Trump's young, unqualified, and extremist partisans is one more issue voters are focusing on this election and will probably further endanger vulnerable Republicans: Moscow Mitch wants to put his lasting, extremist, nihilistic stamp on the nation for generations to come.
It's already terrifying: McConnell has helped confirm and place more than 50 appeals court judges. Those are the most influential of judgeships, the cases that wind their way up to the Supreme Court. As of right now, there's only one open appellate seat. More than one-quarter of the appeals court judges are now McConnell-Trump judges. This campaign of trying to talk more judges into retiring is purely political. Brian Fallon, the executive director of the progressive judicial group Demand Justice, describes it as "court-packing in a different form. […] It raises the question of what, if anything, McConnell is offering them to take senior status earlier than planned. This type of hand-in-glove coordination shows how utterly politicized the judicial branch is."
Here's an example of one issue these judges can fundamentally alter that's particularly important right now: health care. The Alliance for Justice has compiled a list of Trump nominees and appointees who have taken extremist positions against reproductive health freedom, against the Affordable Care Act, against the very basic notion that Americans have a right to health care. That includes Supreme Court justice and alleged sexual assailant Brett Kavanaugh, who while sitting in the D.C. Circuit twice wrote dissenting opinions to rulings upholding the ACA. One of Kavanaugh's clerks describes his dissent as providing the "road map" to invalidating the whole law.
Access to health care has been the battleground Republicans, and especially McConnell, have chosen for the past decade and they've put that fight smack dab in the middle of the courts. They've succeeded to a terrifying extent, which we're just now seeing as the COVID-19 epidemic starts to take hold. It seems like kind of an arcane, political-insiderish, and wonky issue, the federal courts. It's not: It's life and death, when it comes right down to it.
Mitch McConnell is once again demonstrating that he's perfectly willing to kill you for the sake of his ideology.
Published with permission of Daily Kos