Nothing showed Anthony Kennedy’s character than the manner in which he left. The crucial vote on Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Romer v. Evans, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, and Obergefell v. Hodges has ceded his seat to a successor that will destroy the nuances of his majority opinions and concurrences and take a portable fan to the gaseous vapors of his rhetoric. But of course Presidents Jeb!, Plankton, and Cruz would have replaced Kennedy with a Federalist Society dragon too, which nominee would have reminded MSNBC libs that Anthony Kennedy also wrote the majority opinion in Citizens United, was in the minority in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius
If there’s one thing the GOP has gotten right since the Reagan era, it’s obsessing over SCOTUS. In the next decade, as the Court makes the 1930s Court look like Earl Warren’s, Dems may learn that lesson too when they send fundraising emails. Because, my readers, the landscape looks as storm-blasted as I’ve ever seen. Those religious exemptions carved out for bakers? Watch more religious exemptions than there are Protestant sects emerge from the gay marriage decision Obergefell. John Roberts wouldn’t dare take on Brown v. Board of Education and Griswold directly; as he demonstrated in Shelby County, the Voting Rights Act case of 2013, why overrule when you bleed by a hundred cuts? Already I imagine wicked little men and women in Nebraska or Mississippi sending a test case through the state and federal appeals courts that will, inevitably, land in DC. The Court will grant cert. The Court will vote 5-4 to allow Nebraska or Mississippi to ban abortions if the state saw fit, perhaps using a religious exemption clause. Thus, the end of Roe. You’d have to live in a state that allows Planned Parenthood clinics.
Like every Republican, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski were created in labs that programmed their DNA with an anti-Roe animus. They won’t fold, I don’t think. Let me not sound hopeless. But it would take every constituent in Maine and Alaska ringing their phones off the hook for weeks for them to waver. By all means let’s try it. My senior senator, fighting for his life against a governor who should be in jail, voted no on Neil Gorsuch in 2017. Whether Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, and Joe Donnelly hold the line is another matter.
(I’ve no regrets about Harry Reid’s eliminating the judicial filibuster in 2013. First, it had practical consequences: many more Obama-nominated judges are on the bench for years to come. It also was a positive gesture. We know what Mitch McConnell is. He would have eliminated that filibuster himself had he had the chance. When he threatened Democrats last year during the Gorsuch nomination battle with eliminating the filibuster for SCOTUS justices, everyone knew that if the Dems acquiesced we’d be right back where we started in 2018 with nominee Judge Roy Moore…and McConnell would have killed the filibuster for SCOTUS justices anyway).
Chuck Schumer and his aides may be consulting the Senate parliamentarian to learn what tricks they can pull, but in this amateur’s opinion it ain’t much. By all means let’s fight. I’ve already called Bill Nelson’s office; I hope my readers with Democratic senators in Trump states will do the same. Endorse any procedure to gum things up. The fight is all; the fight gives life meaning. With a Court and a pathology dedicated to vaporizing the remains of the New Deal and the Fourteenth Amendment in an attempt to get us back to Andrew Jackson’s times, being a person on the chopping block gives one a certain freedom.