The Democrats’ Temper Tantrum Through the Institutions

RBG Supreme Court
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September 22, 2020

Democrats, their media friends want us to know, are furious. If Republicans exercise their constitutional prerogative and fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the Supreme Court, the Democrats are prepared to burn it all down.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) told his caucus on Saturday that if Republicans move forward with a nomination, "nothing is off the table." Others were more explicit: If the Democrats retake the Senate in 2021, Massachusetts senator Ed Markey vowed to abolish the filibuster; his failed primary challenger, Rep. Joe Kennedy, promised to pack the Court. They'll bestow statehood on Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., and get rid of the Electoral College, too.

Ginsburg's death is merely a pretense. Democrats have for years now been talking about adding justices to the High Court; CNN and the Washington Post alike documented the trend last year. The prospect of Democrats doing away with the filibuster has been around just as long. And the bellyaching about the Electoral College has been with us for two decades, ever since the Supreme Court correctly decided Bush v. Gore.

Their claims that the constitutional order itself puts Democrats at a systematic disadvantage don't take into account Barack Obama's 2012 victory, with 332 electoral votes, or the Democrat-controlled Senate that greenlighted two Obama SCOTUS appointments. Even now, Joe Biden is favored to win the White House and Democrats have better than even odds of retaking the Senate.

Beneath the high-toned rhetoric about a constitutional crisis is a political temper tantrum, with liberal lawmakers threatening to deface or do away with some of the most cherished institutions of American government if the political winds blow in the wrong direction.

Democrats face dual disappointments. First, their long-promised demographic majority has yet to materialize, as larger-than-expected shares of Hispanic and black voters break for Trump. Second, liberals no longer control the Supreme Court, which helped decide the major cultural issues of the last several decades, from same-sex marriage to abortion, in Democrats' favor.

Disempowered conservatives spent decades building a legal movement intended to turn the tide. Facing similar circumstances, liberals are insisting the system is rigged and setting about to change the rules.

The people who hold political power have a duty to exercise it. That is what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did in 2016 when he declined to consider Obama's Supreme Court nominee, and that is what Trump and McConnell will do in the coming months.

Democrats will do the same, showing no mercy if they win in November. They are giving us a chilling preview.