Chris Coons Real Sorry Democrats Made GOP Punch Them In Face Over Supreme Court
Last week, the Senate confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court on a 53 to 47 vote. Only justices Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, and Clarence Thomas received fewer “yes” votes. This is because Kavanaugh was credibly accused of sexual misconduct, Thomas was credibly accused of sexual harassment, and Barrett was nominated literally while voters were ousting Donald Trump from office. However, there was no legitimate reason for all but three Republicans to oppose the highly qualified Jackson. George Will of all people said if there was any sanity in our politics right now, Jackson would've been confirmed 100 to 0.
We expect Republicans to “both sides” the Supreme Court and suggest that just because Democrats weren’t down with alleged sexual predators and extremists, it’s only fair that Republicans would vomit racism on the first Black woman Supreme Court nominee. Unfortunately, a prominent Democratic senator is also singing the “Both Sides Blues."
"I will own that I'm a part of this problem."\n \nSen. @ChrisCoons acknowledges that his vote against Justice Neil Gorsuch, an "eminently qualified" Supreme Court nominee put forward by President #Trump, contributed to the increased polarization of the confirmation process.pic.twitter.com/dSUKo9iTTj— Firing Line with Margaret Hoover (@Firing Line with Margaret Hoover) 1649436643
During an interview with Martha Hoover on PBS's “Firing Line,” Senator Chris Coons was asked if he stood by his votes against Donald Trump’s Federalist Society centerfold nominees. Coons admitted he’d voted against Neil Gorsuch because of his judicial philosophy, and he described a “forceful exchange” he had with Republican Lindsey Graham, where the typically melodramatic senator from South Carolina exclaimed, “I voted for Kagan! I voted for Sotomayor! If you’re not wiling to vote for Gorsuch, what does that mean?"
If Coons wasn’t a chump, he would’ve laughed in Graham’s smug face. Republicans had unapologetically blocked President Barack Obama’s legitimate, lawful Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. Mitch McConnell, Chuck Grassley, and Graham himself all insisted this had nothing to do with Garland’s qualifications. It was supposedly about principles — one they’d later shamelessly break in 2020 for Barrett’s drive-thru confirmation.
Republicans stole the seat from Obama, exploited the vacancy to help get Trump elected, and offered without any attempt at compromise a young hardcore conservative who’ll serve until we’re all dead. Democrats were perfectly within their rights to filibuster any nominee who wasn’t Merrick Garland or at least another Anthony Kennedy. Republicans now have set the precedent that they can block any Democratic president’s Supreme Court nomination when they control the Senate. That’s more of a constitutional crisis than Coons voting against Gorsuch, who’s proven himself a judicial nihilist with a radical vision for America. How could Coons express any regret over his “no” vote on Gorsuch after the past five years?
Democrats should never mention Gorsuch without reminding Americans that he received stolen goods as part of the GOP’s final fuck you to Obama. Republicans won’t shut up about Robert Bork’s failed nomination in 1987, and he was a far-right extremist who was instrumental in Richard Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre. He fully deserved the Senate's bipartisan rejection.
Coons also describes his masterful centrist negotiations with Republicans that would’ve kept the Supreme Court filibuster in place in exchange for confirming Gorsuch. That’s not much of a deal: “If we give you what you want without protest, will you promise not to just take it?” Coons also seems oblivious to the reality that McConnell would’ve nuked the filibuster eventually for Kavanaugh and Barrett. Kavanaugh, a smug partisan, was replacing Kennedy, a vital swing vote. Garland was obviously more moderate than Sotomayor and even Kagan, but Obama recognized that he was replacing the conservative Antonin Scalia. Trump and McConnell picked Barrett to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg with the clear goal of solidifying conservative dominance over the Court and inevitably overturning Roe v. Wade. These were all battles Democrats should’ve fought, but Coons instead laments the loss of Senate comity.
COONS: I’m part of this problem and recognize that with Senator Graham, saying during this process he was voting against [Jackson], he was the last one on the committee with a history of voting for qualification, not for or against philosophy.
This is such nonsense. Graham supported blocking Obama’s nominee regardless of qualification. When Democrats wouldn’t entirely roll over and play dead on Gorsuch, Kegs, and Barrett, he lashed out at Jackson, who’d done nothing to him. The spineless opportunist is already fundraising off his repulsive display. Coons should sympathize less with Republicans and focus more on defending democracy from them.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."