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Wish Denied

Supreme Court justice Ruth Ginsburg died Friday Evening due to complications of metastatic pancreas cancer.

Just days before her death, as her strength waned, Ginsburg dictated this statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

Ginsburg's death gives Republicans the chance to tighten their grip on the court with another appointment by President Trump so conservatives would have 6-3 majority. And that would mean that even a defection on the right would leave conservatives with enough votes to prevail in the Obamacare case and many others.

At the center of the battle to achieve that will be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In 2016, he took a step unprecedented in modern times: He refused for nearly a year to allow any consideration of President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee.

Back then, McConnell's justification was the upcoming presidential election, which he said would allow voters a chance to weigh in on what kind of justice they wanted. But now, with the tables turned, McConnell has made clear he will not follow the same course.

McConnell to Allow a Vote

60 Minutes Comments

Statements From the Supreme Court

Statement From Trump

Obligation or Hypocrisy?!

We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices. We have this obligation, without delay!

Where was the "obligation" in 2016?

If there was no obligation then, there is no obligation now. There is however, massive hypocrisy.

But if Democrats were in  power now, would they do the same? Of course!

This is politics as usual except Republicans stepped up the hypocrisy and tactics in 2016 that both sides will now use from here on out.

Election Impact?

The election impact is not easy to ascertain. Consider things from the point of view of those with the following beliefs:

  1. Those who dislike Trump but wants abortion curbed. Many Catholics fit in this group. 
  2. Those who likes Trump but are also pro-choice.
  3. Independents leery of Trump and Obama.
  4. Pro-gun advocates who have come to dislike Trump. 
  5. Those who want some gun control but otherwise like Trump.
  6. Trump could nominate a woman.

I suspect that nets out to a small plus for Biden but it could easily go the other way especially if Trump nominates a woman.

Perhaps the key is #3, those genuinely sick of Trump, but not liking Biden either. Will they see this as a power grab or will they like Trump's appointment?

Cross Currents

The election impact may also come down to the appointment itself. Will it be before or after the election? 

If before, Trump would do well to pick a moderate. 

A radical right pick may not even win confirmation. The Senate is in doubt and a radical pick could inflame the election, perhaps cost Republicans the Senate, or even the election if the impact on point #3 above is greater than I assume.

538 Chimes In

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I wrote the above before reading the 538 take What Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Death Could Mean For 2020 And The Supreme Court

I added point 6 above "Trump could nominate a woman" after reading 538. I missed that idea and it could be huge.

538 has a discussion similar to mine but I strongly disagree with their take on Sue Collins.

GOP incumbents like Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine may be faced with the choice of irritating GOP voters if they oppose a Trump pick or irritating more moderate voters if they back someone who is viewed as too conservative. This is a particularly acute issue for Collins, who is struggling in her reelection campaign in part because she backed Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.

538 has this backwards.  Where is the GOP going? Will they vote for the Democrat if Collins votes against Trump's nominee.? 

I fail to understand how 538 can fall into the "appeal to base" trap. 

Collins needs to pick up independents and swing voters not the base. She has every incentive to stand up to Trump.

Impact on the Nation?

The impact on the nation could be extreme or nonexistent. This depends on Trump's choice, whether it passes the Senate, what happens to future justices and appointments etc.

538 also picked up on this point.

If there are six GOP-appointed justices on the Supreme Court, law in America could fundamentally move to the right . This is the most important implication, even if it is not the most immediate. If Trump is able to appoint a justice who is similar in ideology to Neil Gorsuch and Kavanagh, his first two picks, it seems likely that abortion and affirmative action could be severely limited in the future, the Affordable Care Act overturned and a host of other conservative rulings issued. That is not guaranteed, but seems quite possible. 

Trump and Republicans putting another justice on the bench either pre or post-election, in the case that he Trump loses, is also likely to trigger an aggressive Democratic response that could have long-lasting implications. Democratic activists were already floating the idea of increasing the number of justices on the Supreme Court to make up for the Garland seat, and I would expect so-called court-packing ideas to accelerate if Trump puts another conservative justice on the court before or right after he loses a presidential election.

This will be the subject of much discussion. But Trump's two previous appointments were both moderate and reasonable to good picks as well. 

Those picks were the best things we have from Trump in 4 years. Perhaps he makes another good choice, or perhaps he picks a radical to spite Democrats after the election. 

If the latter, would a radical even win acceptance? 

There is too much speculation here and too many factors other than to suggest it's best wait until we see Trump's selection and whether it will be before or after the election and if it is successfully rushed through.

Addendum - Sue Collins

 Update #2, Lisa Murkowski, Chuck Grassley, Mitt Romney

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski said she would not vote for a justice ahead of Inauguration Day.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley was Already on Board but not recently.

If so, all it takes is Romney and I would call that likely. Rand Paul could also do it or perhaps someone we have not thought of.

If this is accurate, I called it correctly. 

Severe pressure was on senators to delay, not get it done. 

Once it gets to 51 opposed, a whole bunch of cowards may then join the parade.