Home / US / McConnell’s court seat occupation plan carries electoral risks and rewards

McConnell’s court seat occupation plan carries electoral risks and rewards



WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear that Republicans intend to fill the Supreme Court position as soon as possible, even if party strategists acknowledge doing so will endanger GOP incumbents in blue-shaded states like Colorado and Maine could harm.

The fast-paced, high-stakes battle on the eve of the elections has the potential to conflict with Mr. McConnell’s top priorities – confirming conservative judges and protecting his Senate majority. But for Mr. McConnell and other Republican senators, the chance to replace a liberal judiciary with a conservative one in the nation’s highest court is an opportunity that cannot be missed regardless of the political risks, said Josh Holmes, former chief of staff and campaign manager for Mr. McConnell.

“Most of them believe that this is the enduring legacy of Trump̵

7;s first term,” said Holmes.

Mr McConnell sees his role in steering a volatile confirmation process on the eve of the election as as important as anything he has ever done in the Senate, said Mr Holmes. “He believes this will be the toughest affirmation battle they have ever had. But he kind of enjoys it. “

About 90 minutes after the news that Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died just over six weeks after election day, Mr McConnell issued a statement clarifying that he would ensure that Mr Trump’s candidate for the seat was one Receives vote in the Senate. Democrats were furious because Mr McConnell blocked former President Obama’s decision in court, Merrick Garland, after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia eleven months before the 2016 election.

Democrats wept hypocrisy. But Mr McConnell argued, as he pointed out in a prescient speech in Kentucky in May 2019, that the situation is different than it was four years ago, with the GOP now controlling both the Senate and the White House. So far, he has succeeded in quickly cementing the support of all but two GOP senators, at least in public, in order to advance the confirmation process for President Trump’s candidate. Prior to Mr. Trump’s selection of Amy Coney Barrett, a Conservative Indiana judge, Mr. McConnell was in frequent contact with Mr. Trump and advised him that she was the best-known potential candidate in his caucus.

The politics of the upcoming battle at the Supreme Court will focus on what the verification process will ultimately look like, Republican strategists say. When it gets particularly nasty or personal, it has the potential to change public opinion in any meaningful way that they hope would help the GOP.

President Trump officially nominated Amy Coney Barrett on Saturday to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat that the late Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg has left. Photo: Carlos Barria / Reuters

Mr McConnell said in a tweet Thursday night that he expected the Democrats to dub their hand once the candidate is announced.

“The far left called John Paul Stevens anti-woman,” tweeted Mr. McConnell. “You said Anthony Kennedy was going to turn back the clock. David Souter would hurt “women, minorities, dissidents and other groups” from the bank. Does anyone have any doubts that the same old smears will straighten their heads from Saturday? “

In red states like Montana, Kansas, Iowa, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, Republicans see an advantage in an ugly culture war over the Supreme Court vacancy: it might power the grassroots and might power crucial Republican or suburban independent voters Mr. Trump doesn’t go back to the GOP column. It may place conservative and religious values ​​on the ballot and not on the president’s handling of the coronavirus, divisive rhetoric, or the state of the economy.

The struggle for justice Ginsburg’s seat

Democrats have their own upbeat scenario where the Supreme Court debate puts the emphasis on the fate of the Affordable Care Act and the possibility that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 precedent that established a constitutional right to terminate pregnancy could overturn a conservative majority. Democrats believe this could motivate their base voters and attract suburban women to their cause.

“You should all know that whether they are red, white, blue, or whatever, their health care will be at risk from this candidate,” Senator Mazie Hirono, D., Hawaii, said of the voters. “And I think that’s a whole different dynamic in the midst of a pandemic.”

Without at least two or three seats in Republican-held states, Democrats cannot gain control of the Senate even if they manage to turn around Colorado, Maine, and Arizona, where Republican incumbents lag behind in the polls. In 2016, GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Cory Gardner face tough fighting in Maine and Colorado in the states led by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Voting a pre-election Trump Supreme Court election further complicates their re-election efforts as they are not trying to alienate Trump base loyalists while posing as independent moderators to attract split-ticket voters.

In Arizona, nominated GOP Senator Martha McSally faces a well-funded challenge from former astronaut Mark Kelly in a once-dependable Republican state where voters elected a Democratic Senator, Kyrsten Sinema, in 2018. However, with Democratic Senator Doug Jones that is unlikely to be re-elected in Ruby Alabama, the party will have to win at least three more seats if former Vice President Joe Biden wins the presidency, or four if Mr Trump is re-elected.

Long-term

More Supreme Court judges have served after age 80 in the past 40 years than in the past 190 years combined.

Supreme Court justices by age

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

The judiciary joined the court

The judiciary left the court

Amy Coney Barrett

(Candidate)

Three judges retired and two died during the FDR’s second term

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

The judiciary joined the court

The judiciary left the court

Amy Coney Barrett

(Candidate)

Three judges retired and two died during the FDR’s second term

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

The judiciary joined the court

The judiciary left the court

Amy Coney Barrett

(Candidate)

Three judges retired and two died during the FDR’s second term

The judiciary joined the court

The judiciary left the court

Amy Coney Barrett

(Candidate)

Indiana’s GOP Senator Todd Young, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said he had no doubt a Supreme Court fight would help Senate Republicans.

“For political reasons, recent history has clearly shown that this type of fighting brings Republicans together, and I expect that will happen in 2020,” he said.

Mr Young pointed to 2018 when Democrats campaigning for a health message took control of the house but lost three incumbent Democratic senators in pro-Trump red states after they voted against Supreme Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh had: Missouri, Indiana, and North Dakota.

GOP Senator Josh Hawley’s 2018 Senate offer against Missouri’s then-incumbent Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill received a boost after the Kavanaugh hearings charged his Republican base. Mr Hawley predicted last week that the Supreme Court will again become a key campaign issue in 2020. “It may be very exciting for the president’s supporters or potential supporters,” he said.

President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett, a Conservative judge from Indiana, to succeed the late Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg.


Photo:

Rod Lamkey / Zuma Press

“Of all the things we could talk about and stand up for, this is one of the bigger winners for us. And I think it’s hard to deny that, ”said Kevin Cramer (R., ND). His 2018 opponent, Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp, ​​raised nearly $ 13 million in just 17 days after her no to justice Kavanaugh. “I’m the first show I think,” he said. “I was overwhelmed 5 to 1 – and I won double digits.”

Some Republicans were more cautious.

Senator John Kennedy (R., La.) Said his GOP colleagues shouldn’t assume the Supreme Court battle will help them in November.

“I don’t know how anyone can predict how the American people will react to this … I really don’t know. I think nobody knows, “said Kennedy on Thursday.

“This is a very unusual political environment,” he said. “And I don’t think people stopped worrying about the economy or that they stopped worrying about the coronavirus.”

Senator Tim Kaine (D., Va.) Said his office received an unprecedented 32,000 correspondence within just four days of Justice Ginsburg’s death. Democratic candidates and causes also raised record funds over the past week.

Mr. Kaine, the 2016 Democratic vice-presidential candidate, said one of the most disappointing aspects of running four years ago was that Democratic voters weren’t as interested in the Supreme Court position as Republicans were.

“That is no longer the case,” he said.

Write to Lindsay Wise at [email protected]

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