Thursday, February 02, 2017

Should the Senate Dems Filibuster? How Much and When?

I have done a lot of reading and thinking about the Supreme Court nominee, as well as President Trump's cabinet choices. Dems cannot fight every battle and should not fight every battle. They need to pick principled fights and stick together. They should not only pick fights they can win. There is a time to stand on principle and accept that they will lose at times, but at least they can say that they fought on the right side of history for principled reasons. Then, the Republicans can go it alone on bad choices.

Here are the battles I think they have to fight: 1. They have to filibuster Gorsuch and any nominee that isn't named Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court. The Republicans made up a a new rule and denied President Obama the right and his constitutional duty to appoint a Supreme Court judge. Had Garland been given a vote and lost, then I would not hold this position, but Garland is a center-left moderate who is a good man with a strong judicial temperament. If the Republicans want to choose the "nuclear option" to ram Gorsuch through, that is fine, but Dems should fight on the principle that Garland's name was forwarded by the rightful President and he should have been given a vote.

2. Jeff Sessions should not be Attorney General and Dems have to fight his nomination. He has a history of racist views and has shown himself to be against fair voting practices that prevent/suppress minority (primarily African American) voting.

3. Betsy DeVos was clearly unqualified to be Education Secretary. Her confirmation hearing was an utter disaster. She plagiarized answers on her questionnaire, got her facts mixed up, and she was clearly unprepared as she made up crazy stories about grizzly bears attacking schools in Montana (which wasn't true) as a reason to allow guns in schools.

4. Scott Pruitt for EPA is ridiculous. He is a climate change denier, is responsible for allowing fracking in Oklahoma which has resulted in earthquakes, and sued the EPA numerous times as the Attorney General of Oklahoma to allow businesses to skirt environmental regulations. The guy is a joke choice and should not be considered.

These are the fights that the Dems should fight on clear principles. They will be on the right side of history even if they lose.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Trump's Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch

Barring some crazy scandal about Gorsuch, which does not seem likely, Gorsuch will be the next Supreme Court Justice. Frankly, President Obama and the Democrats were too passive. When Justice Scalia died almost a year ago, the Republicans in the Senate took the unprecedented step of just saying they would not allow any hearing or vote on President Obama's choice - no matter who it would be. After President Obama nominated Merrick Garland - an eminently qualified moderate judge - the Republican Senate just failed to do its job. Obama and the Democrats should have fought and gone to court if necessary to force the Senate to vote. Republicans could have voted no, but at least they would have been on the record. Democrats just sat back and waited. Their inaction allowed the Republican Senate to win without even trying.

Now Gorsuch will be confirmed. He seems fully qualified and should get a vote - just as Garland should have gotten a vote. Dems can try to filibuster all they want, but it is unlikely that they will be able to hold it together and prevent an up-or-down vote. From all that I have read, Gorsuch is conservative, but he seems like he may also be a pragmatist and consensus builder. Certainly, he does not seem like a conservative firebrand. Make no mistake, Roe v. Wade is closer to being overturned than it has been in years. If Kennedy or any of the liberal Justices retire/die it is likely to be overturned. If that happens, then it is because voters allowed it to happen by electing Trump, and Dems did not fight when they could do something about it.