Monday, March 20, 2017

Judicial horrors

Because Neil Gorsuch is presentable -- he could probably be introduced to a suburban mother without acting like a thug -- it is unlikely Democrats will rise up to block his confirmation to the Supreme Court. It would take everything they've got and that isn't much. Sure, he's a stone conservative white man, perhaps slightly to the right of the dyspeptic curmudgeon he would replace, but they are likely to figure that at least Trump didn't nominate Steve Bannon to the court.

I'll be watching whether Democratic Senators raise two issues in hearings:
  • Torture: During the GW Bush administration, Gorsuch was one of the merry band of torture apologists at the Justice Department making up rationales for the divine right of the President to order whatever extra-legal measures he might like in his war on an adjective. It's going to be the supreme test of our legal system whether judges will constrain a runaway president who can always cook up a national "security" threat when he wants to justify something foul. My often disappointing Senior Senator, Diana Feinstein, is the lead Democrat on the Judiciary Committee and, after being mistreated by the CIA herself when looking into abuses, has developed a bee in her bonnet about torture. So she might push for answers in this area.
  • Birthright citizenship: I don't know if any Democrat will raise this, but they should. Maybe Senator Maize Hirono of Hawaii could do it; it would be good to hear it from a person of color. The Trump/Bannon project of MAWA (Making America White Again) founders on the fact that anyone born in the country is automatically a citizen under current interpretations of Congressional citizenship statutes and the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. A citizen is any "person born in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof." But right wing legal activists hope that the application of this principle to children of undocumented immigrants could be ended by simple act of Congress, if concurred in by a sympathetic Supreme Court. They'll go there if they have a chance; the MAWA project is a desperation move, and fails so long as people of color can't be kept from citizenship whether by exclusion or voter suppression and/or incarceration. The great contemporary historian of the Reconstruction era when the US adopted birthright citizenship, Eric Foner, writes of birthright citizenship:

     The 14th Amendment, as Republican editor George Curtis wrote, was part of a process that changed the US government from one “for white men” to one “for mankind.”

    Those were a different kind of Republicans.


Rain Trueax said...

I think he will get in as he replaces a very conservative jurist. The problem will be if one of the liberal judges dies or decides to retire while Trump or even Pence is president. I think they'll save their ammunition for that as it's where it gets scary for this country.

Hattie said...

The real problem with Gorsuch is that he is a well groomed product of the Christian right. He's not a goober, has all the proper credentials, but beneath his respectable exterior he is every bit as nutty in his core beliefs as a the most flagrant holy roller.

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