1. says

    From Talking Points Memo:

    Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump will move – tonight – to lock down that Trump will fill the seat before his term ends. The mourning will inevitably be colored by the rush to lock in a historic conservative majority on the court.

  2. says

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Dead At 87.


    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday evening due to complications of metastatic pancreas cancer.

    She was 87 years old.

    “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ginsburg said in a statement dictated to her granddaughter before her death, according to NPR.

    Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, was appointed by President Clinton in 1993.

    She previously served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where she was appointed in 1980.

    Before her career as a judge, she was best known for her work on gender equality. As a civil rights attorney, she argued pivotal gender equality cases before the Supreme Court. She also helped launched the ACLU’s the Women’s Rights Project.

    Gender equality was also a hallmark of her tenure as a Supreme Court justice.

    She died of metastatic pancreatic cancer.

  3. says

    From comments by readers:

    Suddenly, McConnell isn’t going to want to leave D.C.
    What a loss!

    RIP, RBG. Millions upon millions mourn you.
    She fought a brave fight to the end with a vicious illness. This country is lucky to have had her on the Court for so many years.
    May she rest in peace and power.
    You know McConnell will push this one through as quickly as he possibly can and it’ll be the worst possible candidate. McC will conveniently forget the prohibition he put on Obama.

    The Supreme Court’s new session starts in two weeks. There will be an even number of justices, 8. There are only three liberals.

  4. says

    From Russell Berman, writing for The Atlantic:

    […] Trump will be eager to fill Ginsburg’s seat immediately, seizing an opportunity to rally his base before the election and to cement his legacy in the event that he is defeated in November. He could also become the first president since Richard Nixon to install three justices on the high court in a single four-year term. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already indicated that he’s ready for another confirmation battle, either before or immediately after the election. Republicans might be hard-pressed to consider and approve a Trump nominee in the eight weeks before November, but even a victory by Vice President Joe Biden and a Democratic takeover of the Senate might not prevent Trump from successfully appointing another justice. Republicans would still control both the White House and the Senate until a new Congress takes office in early January.

    Ginsburg made her own desire clear in the days before her death, NPR’s Nina Totenberg reported today. She dictated a statement to her granddaughter that read: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

    Whether that final wish will be granted is unclear. McConnell has insisted that the precedent he created to deny former President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland in the final year of Obama’s term—in a vacancy that occurred nearly nine months before the 2016 election—no longer applies, because the same party controls both the White House and the Senate majority. “Oh, we’d fill it,” the Kentucky Republican promised in May 2019, more than a year before Ginsburg announced the cancer recurrence that took her life. Never mind that the rationale McConnell gave at the time—that voters should have the chance to weigh in on their next Supreme Court justice—would seem to apply even more strongly during an election in which the first ballots have already been mailed.

    The more salient question is not whether McConnell would try to confirm Trump’s nominee but whether his GOP majority would go along with it—either before the election ends in November or in a lame-duck session of Congress afterward. A number of Republican senators have already said they’d want to fill a Supreme Court vacancy if Trump is still in office. But McConnell would need the votes of 50 out of his 52 members to allow Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie (assuming all Democrats voted against Trump’s nominee), and the numbers may not be on his side. One Republican, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, already voted against the president’s last Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, who won confirmation by a single vote in 2018. Another, Senator Susan Collins of Maine, supported Kavanaugh but is now in danger of losing her bid for a sixth term this fall. And a third Republican, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, voted to convict Trump during the president’s impeachment trial earlier this year; having already tried to remove Trump from office, Romney might be disinclined to give him another lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

    The Supreme Court has now seen three vacancies in the past five years. Because of her age and ill health, Ginsburg’s is the least surprising. But it may be the most consequential. […] Should Trump pick Ginsburg’s replacement, however, the ideological shift rightward it represents would likely be the largest for a single Supreme Court seat since the conservative Clarence Thomas succeeded the liberal Thurgood Marshall nearly three decades ago. And that opportunity could be too enticing for Republicans to pass up.

    McConnell, backed by the Senate Republicans who have ratified his decisions, has shown above all a willingness to wield power to its fullest extent when it comes to the federal judiciary, to interpret as widely as possible the Constitution’s delegation to the Senate of the authority to “advise and consent” on presidential nominations. He cares more about the confirmation of conservative judges than anything else the Senate does […]

    […] The vacancy thus might provoke the turnout boost for Democrats that previous court battles did not, as well as a push for retribution if Republicans are seen as ignoring the will of the voters. A successful GOP effort to replace Ginsburg with a conservative before or immediately after a Democratic victory will almost certainly lead to more progressive calls for Biden—along with a willing Democratic Senate—to simply pack the Supreme Court with more seats to offset the conservative advantage.

    The stakes of the next two months—with hundreds dying daily from the coronavirus, with an incumbent president fanning violence and undermining the integrity of a national election—could hardly have been higher before Ruth Bader Ginsburg succumbed to cancer. Into that cauldron now goes a Supreme Court fight, with an outcome that could alter American society not only for the next four years, but for a generation to come.


    A woman’s right to choose is in peril.

  5. says

    From The Washington Post:

    […] A landmark moment for Justice Ginsburg came in 2011, when the court for the first time opened its term with three female justices. Justice Ginsburg said in an interview with The Washington Post that it would “change the public perception of where women are in the justice system. When the schoolchildren file in and out of the court and they look up and they see three women, then that will seem natural and proper — just how it is.”

    Her outspoken feminism played a role in Justice Ginsburg’s success. President Bill Clinton acknowledged that in 1993 when he nominated her to replace retiring Justice Byron White. At the time, she was a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

    “Many admirers of her work say that she is to the women’s movement what former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was to the movement for the rights of African Americans,” Clinton said in Rose Garden ceremony. “I can think of no greater compliment to bestow on an American lawyer.”

    (Justice Ginsburg herself usually demurred when the comparison was made, saying that Marshall literally risked his life defending Black clients in the segregated South and that her legal work required no such sacrifice.)

    On the court, Justice Ginsburg’s most notable rulings and dissents advanced feminist causes.

    In 1996, she authored a groundbreaking decision ordering the Virginia Military Institute to admit women, ending a 157-year tradition of all-male education at the state-funded school.

    While Virginia “serves the state’s sons, it makes no provision whatever for her daughters. That is not equal protection,” Justice Ginsburg wrote in United States v. Virginia. The 7-to-1 decision — her friend, Scalia, was the dissenter — was the capstone of the legal battle for gender equality, she said later.

    “I regard the VMI case as the culmination of the 1970s endeavor to open doors so that women could aspire and achieve without artificial constraints,” Justice Ginsburg said after the decision.

    Later in her career, discrimination against women was the theme of several forceful dissents Justice Ginsburg read from the bench, a sparingly used bit of theater that justices employ to emphasize deeply held disagreements with a majority opinion.

    Among them was a protest of the court’s decision to uphold a federal ban on so-called partial-birth abortions. “The court deprives women of the right to make an autonomous choice, even at the expense of their safety,” Justice Ginsburg wrote. “This way of thinking reflects ancient notions about women’s place in the family and under the Constitution — ideas that have long since been discredited.”

    In another, she objected to a ruling that said workers may not sue their employers over unequal pay caused by discrimination alleged to have begun years earlier. That case had been filed by Lilly Ledbetter, the lone female supervisor at a tire plant in Gadsden, Ala., who sued after determining she was paid less than male co-workers.

    In an interview with The Post in 2010, Justice Ginsburg said the Ledbetter case struck a personal chord.

    “Every woman of my age had a Lilly Ledbetter story,” she said. “And so we knew that the notion that a woman who is in a nontraditional job is going to complain the first time she thinks she is being discriminated against — the one thing she doesn’t want to do is rock the boat, to become known as a complainer.”

    She called upon Congress to take action, and once Democrats were in control, it did. Obama signed the law relaxing the deadlines for filing suits.

    If the law is often complex, her view of equality was simple, she once said.

    “It has always been that girls should have the same opportunity to dream, to aspire and achieve — to do whatever their God-given talents enable them to do — as boys,” Justice Ginsburg said in a 2015 conversation at the American Constitution Society. “There should be no place where there isn’t a welcome mat for women. . . . That’s what it’s all about: Women and men, working together, should help make the society a better place than it is now.” […]


    More at the link.

  6. says

    Murkowski: ‘Fair is fair,’ no Supreme Court confirmation before the inauguration. Who’s joining her?

    Remarkably, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, just told Alaska Public Media on Friday afternoon that she would not confirm a new Supreme Court justice before next year’s inauguration. “Fair is fair,” she said speaking hypothetically before the announcement of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing.

    She was talking, of course, about the precedent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set for confirming justices before a presidential election when he refused to even consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia. Scalia died a full nine months before that year’s election. McConnell, pulling a Senate procedure out of his ass, said that the Senate could not possibly confirm a nominee before an election, and that the voters should be allowed to have their say on the direction of the court. And clearly, with McConnell being the destroyer of everything good in this world, he will push a nominee—in a total reversal of his previous doctrine.

    Well, Murkowski is taking him at his word on the Garland doctrine. Here’s what she said last month, when the question was raised. “When Republicans held off Merrick Garland it was because nine months prior to the election was too close, we needed to let people decide. And I agreed to do that. If we now say that months prior to the election is OK when nine months was not, that is a double standard and I don’t believe we should do it.”

    Here’s what some other Republicans said. Sen. Chuck Grassley said that “in the abstract […] I would do the same thing in 2020 that I would in 2016.” That is: refuse to consider a nominee. Lindsey Graham, now chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee which would have the hearings on a nominee, said he’d be “willing” to fill a vacancy, but “I’d like to get input from my colleagues. […] I don’t know. We’ll see.” […]

    So it’s pretty much on Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney to do the right thing and stand with Murkowski. Romney said in August, “I’m not at a point where I have something to say.” He’d better get there fast. In August, Collins pulled her usual dodge. “We do not have a vacancy on the Supreme Court. All nine justices are alive.“ Then this month, she told The New York Times’ Jonathon Martin that she wouldn’t vote to confirm anyone in October. “I think that’s too close, I really do,” she said. She also told Martin that she would be opposed seating a justice during the lame duck session after the election if Trump loses. She didn’t say whether she thinks September is too close.

    Murkowski and Collins are basically on the record—no vote for a Trump nominee before the election. Theoretically, so is Graham. Back in October 2018, he said, “If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait to the next election,” but Graham is a piece of shit and can’t be expected to keep his word.

    What we do now? Work on Senate races. Scare the shit out of those Republicans who are up for reelection and make this too toxic an option to consider. Failing that, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris should pledge NOW to increase the size of the court when they win, and get Senate Democrats lined up behind them.

  7. says

    Donald Trump Wanted to Keep This Video Deposition Secret. We Got a Copy.

    He and his lawyer hoped to prevent this footage from the Trump University fraud case from “getting into the hands of the media.”

    […] Mother Jones was provided the video by a source who asked not to be identified. Art Cohen, a lead plaintiff in one of the lawsuits against Trump University and Trump, confirmed that this was the actual video of the deposition. “On this video, Trump’s shifty memory and dishonest character are exposed when he is faced with questions that demand the truth,” Cohen says. (Last month, Mother Jones posted video of a conversation that occurred during a break in these proceedings between Trump and Petrocelli, in which Trump boasted of threatening the Better Business Bureau to change the D grade it awarded Trump University to an A.)

    When the written transcript of the deposition video was made public, media attention focused on an exchange about Trump’s memory. Forge had asked him to evaluate his own memory, and Trump said, “My memory’s good.” Forge reminded Trump that he had once described it as “one of the all-time great memories,” and Trump kept calling it “good” before acknowledging he had used that phrase. When Forge asked, “Do you believe you have one of the best memories in the world?” Trump replied, “That I can’t tell you.” Forge noted that Trump had previously stated he indeed possessed one of the best memories in the world and referenced an NBC News report from the previous month in which Trump had declared he had “the world’s greatest memory.” Trump said, “I don’t remember that.” Here it is: […]

    The video snippets (4 of them), and more details presented in text, are available at the link.

  8. says

    From Neal Katyal:

    This seat will be filled in due time. If Trump tries to rush it, he will be monkeying with the Court, w/devastating consequences. The Democrats will have options, incl increasing the size of the Supreme Court. For now, let’s take a deep breath and remember the legacy RBG left us.

    Justice Ginsburg was an American hero. The best of the best.

  9. says

    From Wonkette:

    Sorry you didn’t want to pack the Supreme Court, Joe Biden, but you’re going to pack the motherfucking goddamn Supreme Court.

    I apologize. I am being mortifyingly uncouth, my only thought on hearing the news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing at 87 being OH FUCK. SHIT. FUCK. SHIT. Which I informed the Walmart of in hysterical blasts not at all muffled by my cotton plague mask. This is the bad place.

    My only thought being … no. I said that already. I have no other thoughts. Not appreciations of her as jurist. […] And then, like a clear bell cutting through the fog to the ships in my brain, “JOE BIDEN WILL PACK THE SUPREME COURT.”

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg would understand.

    Mitch McConnell will waste no time calling a vote for her replacement by Ted Cruz, Neomi Rao, Ivanka Trump, Vlad the Impaler, Amy Coney Barrett I guess, […]

    What is this cocktail my husband has handed me, is it tequila and pineapple juice and lime, it is delicious, I will drink it.

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a husband, I vaguely recall it being a cute part of the movie about her I did not watch, that he wasn’t a fucking schmuck and he liked her even though she was smart and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. That they were nice together. She did exercise a lot too, I read that a million times, and she had so much cancer.

    And she tried so hard to hang on, we all knew it, we all knew she was hanging on just for this, she would not take offense at my only thought, my only thought, was I trying to say something?


    Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Notorious RBG, explained that she did not resign during the Obama administration because she thought that Hillary Clinton would win and would be President of the next administration.

  10. says

    From Michael Tomasky:

    First of all, before we get to the politics: Thank heaven for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is truly one of the great 10 or 20 Americans of the last 40 years. Her work has made millions of people’s lives better. She has made this, just as the founders hoped great Americans would, a more perfect union.

    I would prefer to go on in that vein, but these dark, greasy men and these dark, greasy times have rendered the pivot to politics in the second paragraph necessary and urgent. And so we pivot: What now?

    It’s obvious: Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump are going to try to name a replacement before the election. McConnell has already said he would—in May, while he was appearing at a Chamber of Commerce lunch in Paducah, a small city in western Kentucky. He was asked, how would you handle a Supreme Court vacancy, in 2020, while President Trump was seeking reelection? “Oh,” he said, “we’d fill it.” There’s video. Go look at the smirk on his face as he says it. […]

    The rest of the article is blocked for me (not a member at Daily Beast Inside), so if anyone else can post the rest, please do.

  11. xdrta says

    McConnell tells GOP senators to ‘keep your powder dry’ on vacancy

    In a private letter circulated to his GOP colleagues Friday night, McConnell urged Republican senators to avoid locking themselves into a position on whether they would support taking up Ginsburg’s successor during this election year.

    In the letter, which was obtained by The Washington Post, McConnell noted that Senate Republicans are going to “come under tremendous pressure from the press” to announce a stance on how to handle the nomination.

    “For those of you who are unsure how to answer, or for those inclined to oppose giving a nominee a vote, I urge you all to keep your powder dry,” McConnell told the 52 other GOP senators. “This is not the time to prematurely lock yourselves into a position you may later regret.”

    He also stressed in the letter that there is sufficient time to fill the vacancy this year, even though it is already mid-September. If Republicans lose control of the Senate in November, they will hold the majority until Jan. 3, when the new senators will be sworn in.

    By Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey

  12. raven says


    A woman’s right to choose is in peril.

    No it isn’t.
    It’s now just dead.

    The fundie xians/GOP have been trying to overthrow Roe versus Wade since 1973, 47 years.
    The sharks see massive blood in the water and they are going berserk.
    There is nothing to stop them and they aren’t going to stop.

    The court can reverse itself and does occasionally. Stare Decisis is dead.
    If forced birthing and female slavery is unpopular enough, it will itself be outlawed some day.
    It will take a few decades though, long after I’m dead.

  13. blf says

    (Another off-topic meta, Sorry!) This is a test of adding an external keyboard to the still-booted system. Seems to be Ok, albeit the egodynamics are wrong. The mildly deranged penguin is still cringing, and I’ve finally learned what a mysterious part I found on the floor some time ago is… one of the keyboard’s legs! Lots more testing to do, plus some research and contingency planning for (re-)booting. Previous advice to beware incoming penguins bearing trebuchets still applies. (Return to topic, my luinch,  & Tpyos offerimsg…)

  14. says

    From text quoted by xdrta in comment 11,

    “For those of you who are unsure how to answer, or for those inclined to oppose giving a nominee a vote, I urge you all to keep your powder dry,” McConnell told the 52 other GOP senators. “This is not the time to prematurely lock yourselves into a position you may later regret.”

    It sounds to me like McConnell is trying to get possible defectors from his agenda to keep quiet. He doesn’t want Murkowski, Romney, Collins, etc. telling the press that they may not vote to confirm a Trump nominee.

    Also the “position you may later regret,” is a threat.

  15. says

    3 Big Ways RBG’s Death Could Have An Immediate SCOTUS Impact

    Even before it’s determined whether President Trump will get to fill the seat left vacant by the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, her absence could have a big impact on disputes already before or likely headed to the Supreme Court. […]

    Here are three ways Ginsburg’s death could shift the dynamics of issues that are now on their way to the Supreme Court.

    Obamacare: The Supreme Court already has scheduled for oral arguments in November a major challenge to the Affordable Care Act. Texas and other GOP states are seeking to dismantle the Affordable Care Act under the dubious theory that, when the congressional Republicans zeroed out Obamacare’s individual mandate, they rendered the entire law unconstitutional.

    Because Chief Justice John Roberts had voted in favor of upholding Obamacare when the arguments against it were more plausible, legal observers — and even Senate Republicans — did not see much of a chance of him casting a deciding vote to demolish it. But if the four other conservatives side with Texas, that will create a 4-4 split that will defer back to the lower courts. A district court had fully invalidated the law. The conservative U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit punted, sending it back to the district court for review before the Supreme Court took the case.

    Election Disputes: A half dozen emergency legal disputes over election rules have been kicked up to the Supreme Court. In most cases, the conservative court has stuck together to side with the party wanting to maintain restrictive voting laws that have been relaxed by lower courts. So, Ginsburg’s death doesn’t change that dynamic.

    However, the one exception to the trend was a case out of Rhode Island, where the RNC was trying to overturn a consent decree the state had reached with voter advocates that opened up absentee voting. Three conservatives noted their dissents publicly, but it’s possible that a fourth conservative also would have ruled in the RNC’s favor (justices aren’t required to note their dissents publicly in these kinds of emergency disputes). So Ginsburg’s death may open up the door for the RNC or other outside groups to overturn at SCOTUS the legal agreements states have reached to make voting easier.

    Perhaps the even bigger question is what her death means for any hypothetical disputes — a la Bush v. Gore — that arise after the election. The speculation on how those would play out center on Chief Justice Roberts’ instinct towards stirring the court away from highly politicized decisions when possible. But he may lose some leverage if the other conservatives can band together to deadlock a case. This means the way lower courts handle major post-election disputes will take on extra importance.

    Census: It’s already guaranteed that the Supreme Court will be the final word on whether […] Trump can exclude undocumented immigrants from the congressional apportionment —a move widely believed to be unconstitutional and violation of federal statute. But the timing of when the matter will be decided by the Supreme Court is still up in the air. The Justice Department formally noticed its appeal to the Supreme Court this week.

    Last week, a three-judge panel ruled that Trump’s policy violated the law. (The panel opted not to decide the constitutional questions.) Because the case deals with apportionment, it goes directly to the Supreme Court after getting its initial review from a three-judge panel. And the Supreme Court has to issue some sort of judgement on the dispute — though it’s up to the court whether to have full arguments on the case or to issue a decision more quickly. The justices will also have before them fairly soon a decision whether to immediately block the Trump policy while the case is on appeal.

    The opportunity Trump has to put on the court a justice more likely to rule in his favor makes the decisions about timing and whether to block the policy now much more consequential.

  16. says

    Readers of the article referenced in comment 15, noted that, “Four catholic males who graduated from all male Catholic high school now control the court.”

    That fact gives even more weight to what raven said in comment 12.

  17. says

    David Faris looks at the effects of Ginsburg’s death from a different perspective:

    […] Think of it this way: If […] Trump is re-elected, this was going to happen anyway. I don’t know anyone versed in actuarial realities who thought that Ginsburg would have survived another four years. And she’s not the only elderly liberal on the Court — Stephen Breyer is 82, albeit in much better health. But these were always the stakes. If the American people give Trump another term, they are voting for a 6-3 or perhaps even a 7-2 ultra-conservative majority on the Supreme Court, one that could last decades. Ginsburg’s death changes nothing about that calculus except to eliminate any lingering magical thinking about how the 5-4 conservative split could be preserved in amber until 2025.

    The reality is that Ginsburg’s passing actually creates a trap for the GOP. With court-expansion gaining steam on the progressive left, the last thing that Republicans need right now is to be confronted with the rank hypocrisy of their decision to block Merrick Garland’s nomination by Barack Obama in 2016. Four years ago, the GOP unified around an obviously sham rationale for stonewalling the Garland nomination — that Supreme Court vacancies shouldn’t be filled in an election year. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t even bother clinging to this fiction for very long. Last year, he said openly that he would fill a vacancy in 2020. As if on cue, he released a statement Friday night (which must have been written months ago) that if President Trump nominates a replacement for Ginsburg, that person will receive a floor vote in the U.S. Senate.

    Democrats are doomed, right? Democracy is dead? Not so fast. First, it is not at all clear that McConnell has the votes to proceed with confirming a Supreme Court justice weeks before a presidential election. With a 53-47 majority in the Senate (and Vice President Mike Pence as a tiebreaker), he can only afford to lose three votes. There are multiple incumbent Republicans currently struggling for their political lives in blue or purple states, including Cory Gardner (Col.), Martha McSally (Ariz.), Susan Collins (Maine), and Thom Tillis (North Carolina). If McConnell, who is deeply unpopular, insists on jamming another unpopular conservative zealot onto the Court on behalf of the party’s profoundly unpopular president, the ramifications for these candidates could be catastrophic. […]

    There is a very real possibility that four or more Republicans — likely some combination of the endangered incumbents plus Mitt Romney (Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) band together to spike the effort to fill Ginsburg’s seat either prior to the election, or in the lame duck session should Democrats win the presidency and the Senate.

    That would leave Democrats, at worst, in the same position they would have been in if Biden were to win the presidency and the Senate. Had Ginsburg survived until January, there is no question that she would have stepped down almost immediately. Replacing her would leave the Court’s 5-4 conservative majority intact […] Biden himself is too much of a committed institutionalist to endorse court-packing absent a fresh provocation, and even wildly optimistic November scenarios would leave conservative Democrats like Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (W. Va.) with considerable power to undercut any escalation in the court wars.

    But if Republicans insist on filling Ginsburg’s seat with some Federalist Society drone, it totally changes the calculus, both for Biden and for the most right-wing Democratic senators. […]

    Do you think Democrats wouldn’t expand the Court if McConnell and the Republicans insist on reneging on their own nonsense precedent from 2016? Think again. It wasn’t long after the news broke before Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) announced on Twitter that, “Mitch McConnell set the precedent. No Supreme Court vacancies filled in an election year. If he violates it, when Democrats control the Senate in the next Congress, we must abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court.” Mark my words: this will be the Democratic Party’s official line by the end of the weekend. […]

    This is a fluid and fast-moving situation, but the bottom line is this: If Democrats hold firm and threaten massive escalation, they can stop McConnell from doing his worst here. If they fail, they can still win in November, and then remake the judiciary. While that might seem like cold comfort to those rightly afflicted by Ginsburg’s death, it is better than despair. There’s enough of that going around already.


    As Michael Beschloss, we should immediately stop referring to “court packing” and start using phases like “court reform.” Ed Markey’s phrase “expand the Supreme Court” is also good.

  18. says

    From Mark Sumner: It’s time to get in Good Trouble to preserve the legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

    Of course we’re crying. A woman who held us all up for so, so long has finally laid down her burden after the literal fight of a lifetime. We’re hurting. We’re afraid. We miss her already.

    But Republicans are already celebrating the death of pioneering Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as an opportunity. Donald Trump is calling on Republicans to act quickly to confirm whatever nominee he puts forward. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is contemplating whether a no-witnesses impeachment can be topped with a no-hearings confirmation. […]

    There is absolutely no doubt that the GOP will now engage in the Hypocrisy Olympics, working hard to master the art of the 180-degree turn and racing to put Trump’s nominee across the line in record time. But a mere willingness start a hell-in-a-handbasket assembly line may not be enough to put another butt in Ginsburg’s seat on the Court before it even has a chance to cool. Democrats are not about to roll over. This is a fight worth having.

    2020 may have robbed us of both Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Rep. John Lewis, but it’s time to get in Good Trouble. And there are multiple ways to fight.

    “From where I sit, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish was not that McConnell would do the right thing. She knew he wouldn’t. It was that we would FIGHT LIKE HELL to preserve her legacy.” — Elie Mystal, The Nation

    Hillary Clinton has offered a three-part plan for fighting against the rapid replacement of Justice Ginsburg:


    There are dozens of Republicans who barely finished articulating why there could not be a nomination for a Justice during an election year. Not only did many of them voice this in 2016, some of them have continued to do so over the last four years in the most adamant terms; terms that having included things like “even if this was a Republican president.” It’s included telling America to “use my words against me” if they didn’t hold true to this claim. It may seem that there are no Republicans left willing to stand up for any principle, especially one they created out of convenience in the last election cycle, but that feeds right into the next point.


    There are definitely Republicans in red states who will feel like falling in line behind Trump and McConnell is the only option. But there are also those—like Susan Collins—who are already finding that standing too close to Trump is leaving them with radiation burns. Push them. Make this an issue. There’s absolutely no doubt that, no matter who Trump nominates, it will be some Federalist Society-approved ultraconservative, ready to tear down everything Justice Ginsburg accomplished and paint the nation in a shade of industrial repression gray. Make it clear that anyone voting for Trump’s nominee—anyone who even supports a vote on Trump’s nominee—is supporting the reversal of every gain made under Ginsburg.


    There are not nearly as many obstacles here as there used to be, because the idea that the Senate runs on rules has been simply discarded by McConnell—who regularly discards the idea of regular order to simply do as he pleases. Still, there are some shreds remaining. To start with, Democrats must refuse a continuing resolution so long as there is any threat of McConnell forwarding a nominee. Unless there is a binding agreement—an agreement that goes way beyond McConnell’s word—shut it all the #$%@ down. In addition, Democrats must deny the Senate unanimous consent. Not just unanimous consent on the nomination, but on everything. The Senate has less than two weeks of scheduled sessions in the remainder of the year. Democrats need to deploy every possible roadblock to scheduling hearings, holding hearings, bringing a nominee forward, scheduling a vote … these are delaying tactics, and there’s little doubt that McConnell will run over them all. Only, if the polls start to show that Americans aren’t happy about the nominee or the process, McConnell might start to lose some of these procedural votes.

    And Americans are already not happy.

    In Times/Siena polls of Maine, North Carolina and Arizona released Friday, voters preferred Mr. Biden to select the next Supreme Court justice by 12 percentage points, 53 percent to 41 percent. In each of the three states, Mr. Biden led by just a slightly wider margin on choosing the next justice than he did over all.
    According to that poll, the desire to see Biden pick the nominee is actually higher than the base support for Biden. This could very well mean that the importance of this issue gets driven home to Republicans up for reelection in a very visible way.

    But if any of the above is going to happen, it’s also going to have to happen in the streets, on the phones, and in every forum where Democrats—and everyone else—can make it clear that the legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg must be preserved at all cost. She carried us this far. Now we have to carry her dream.

    From Rob Reiner:

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s body isn’t even cold and Mitch McConnell is dancing on her grave. This is war. Dems have powerful weapons. Now is the time to use them.

  19. says

    Oh FFS.

    The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an independent federal board of eight commissioners tasked with investigating civil rights issues and recommending remedies, has created a new series of recommendations to better protect minority voting rights during the coronavirus pandemic.

    We will never see it […] By a party line vote, the committee’s four conservative members voted to block its release and end work on the project.

    The reasons for the conservative objections are … interesting. The Trump-appointed Stephen Gilchrist [said] that he found the timing of issuing a report on voting challenges and recommendations so close to an election “somewhat suspect.” (Work on the report began in June.) A second Trump appointee, J. Christian Adams, appears to have gone more directly down a conspiracy path: […] he voted against the report’s release because it “overlooked the disenfranchising effect of mail voting”—claims that resulted in a “mostly false” rating from fact-checkers at PolitiFact a few months back.

    So yeah, there’s just not going to be a report. Won’t happen.

    […] the relatively new impotence of the Commission on Civil Rights, created by the 1957 Civil Rights Act but with no statutory authority, having been stripped of it in 1996. […] The short version is that it, like the Federal Elections Commission and other would-be nonpartisan federal efforts, suffers from the same intentional conservative neglect as the others.

    Each of these commissions rests on the assumption that regardless of party differences, some base level of integrity is necessary for the nation to function at all—whether that be policing against illegal campaign activity or keeping watch against intentional voter suppression efforts. Those assumptions are no longer true; one of the two parties now sees itself as benefiting from the relaxation of both norms. So here we are, again.


  20. says

    From Dahlia Lithwick:

    […] America has lost a warrior, and it’s OK to be crushed. I am flattened. And I will mourn, because she deserves to be mourned. But we are also facing an almighty battle that will rage in the coming weeks, with attempts to fill her seat in an unseemly and grotesque manner. It will be hard and painful, but if you find yourself feeling hopeless and powerless, then you are emphatically doing it wrong. Because if anyone had a right to say “nah,” it was the woman who couldn’t get a job or a clerkship after graduating at the top of her class. But she pushed on, and then she pushed forward. She stepped into the fight of the phenomenal women who paved the path before, and now, well, it’s time to step into her fight and get it finished. I think the Notorious RBG would have peered owlishly out at all of us tonight and asked what the heck we are waiting for. And I think we can probably honor her best by getting to it.


  21. says

    Follow-up to comment 17.

    Take Thom Tillis (North Carolina) out of that list. He has already said that he will go along with McConnell jamming through a replacement for Ginsburg.

  22. says

    Conservatives are arguing that Ginsburg should be replaced on the Supreme Court before the election.

    […] Conservative journalists worked to rebut arguments that the Senate should wait until after the election to name a justice. Democrats have pointed to a statement that McConnell made in 2016 when he torpedoed Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Judge Merrick Garland: “The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”

    RealClearInvestigations writer Mark Hemingway claimed in a tweet that “The McConnell rule was always no SCOTUS noms in an election year –but only if WH and Senate are controlled by different parties.” Daily Wire reporter Ryan Saavedra retweeted the post and added that “the media is already intentionally lying about Mitch McConnell said in the past.” Federalist senior editor Mollie Hemingway echoed the sentiment during an appearance on Fox News.

    Fact checkers at the New York Times have previously disputed similar claims made by McConnell himself, who since 2016 has tried to shift his justification for blocking Garland with the different-parties argument. McConnell released a statement on Friday night noting that he intends to hold a vote for Trump’s nominee in the Senate. On Fox News, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz offered one argument for installing a new justice before the election, which Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen praised on Twitter:

    Ted Cruz with an excellent point. If election is litigated can’t risk having just 8 justices and the possibility of a deadlocked court. Could cause a constitutional crisis.

    The Washington Examiner published an op-ed by Eddie Scarry titled, “McConnell and Trump Need to Fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Seat,” which seemed to allow that the Senate majority leader wasn’t hewing to any “rule” in 2016, nor would he be in 2020:

    True, McConnell’s justification in 2016 for blocking then-President Barack Obama’s nominee to the court was that we were in the heat of an election and that the choice should be left up to voters.

    It was a naked power grab. There’s no way around it. And it would be this time, too. But let’s not kid ourselves.

    […] Rod Dreher, writing in his blog at the American Conservative, noted in a post titled “OMG RBG!” that he supports filling the seat before the election but worries that it could hurt the country:

    As a conservative and a Christian, I am all in for what McConnell proposes. I have said in this space before that as the country moves left, I believe the federal courts are going to be the last line of defense for religious liberty and the things for which social conservatives care most. The radicalization of the Democratic Party has deepened my conviction on this point.

    Thinking about the country, though, I cannot see how doing this before the election serves the common good.

    But: do we really have a common good anymore?

    So replacing RBG would be a “naked power grab” that wouldn’t serve the common good, and the GOP should do it anyway. OMG, indeed.


  23. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death is a grave, sorrowful and ill-timed calamity in the escalating crisis of American democracy, the crisis of the American state. The only relevant and timely thing I can think to add is this: You can’t work this kind of problem or operate in this kind of environment unless you’re ready to say what you’re going to do. You can’t start by saying McConnell has to follow his rule. You need to say what you’ll do when he doesn’t. Otherwise you’ve got one side with words and the other with the ability to act. And that’s a loser’s hand.

    The thing to do, if Republicans take this course and the Democrats take the presidency and the Senate, to add either two or four new seats to the Supreme Court, for a total of our 11 or 13.

    We are here because of the Republican party’s increasing unwillingness to accept limits on political action. To up the ante on that tendency, to meet it, is itself a grave threat to democratic governance. But an even graver threat is to remove any mechanism of consequences or accountability. Then there is truly no limit or disincentive to corruption, law breaking and bad action. That reality is precisely the one in which we currently find ourselves.

    In war or in sports or really any kind of contest you never let the other side hold all the initiative. You can say that McConnell and Trump shouldn’t take this step, that the American people should get to decide. Because the reality is they can take this step. So what will you do when they do that. The answer is you take the clearest and most economical step to undo the corrupt act. Adding new Justices is the way to do that.

    Make this new corruption a centerpiece of the campaign, hold it over the heads of embattled Republican senators, try in every way to get a just result, which is to put this in the hands of the next President and Congress. But make clear that if it happens Democrats will undo it next year if the people give them to power to do so.

  24. says

    DeJoy’s corruption spreads all the way down from Trump and Mnuchin

    The federal judge who shut down Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s sabotage of the U.S. Postal Service sort of just scratched the surface when he said the case presented to him showed that DeJoy and Donald Trump are “involved in a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service” and said “this attack on the Postal Service is likely to irreparably harm the states’ ability to administer the 2020 general election.” There are a lot of rocks being turned over right now, and every one of them reveals a teeming mass of corruption, not just with DeJoy but also with USPS Board of Governors Chairman Robert “Mike” Duncan, a major Republican donor, former RNC chairman, and great friend of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

    DeJoy’s appointment to the job is one of the first very big problems for him, for Trump, and for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has emerged as taking an inappropriate, potentially illegal role in the agency’s sabotage. DeJoy’s political contributions to the Trump campaign and to Republicans, including contributions right after the Postmaster job opened up, at the very least stink and at most open DeJoy up to criminal liability.

    New discoveries by the Campaign Legal Center show a pattern of very large donations from DeJoy family members and employees at least through 2018, again looking very much like an illegal straw donor scheme—a very cozy one. Three of the highly paid former employees DeJoy brought with him to the USPS were involved in the [illegal] donation pattern.

    […] DeJoy frequently used money to get what he wanted, or in one case, what his kid wanted. A “series of large checks” written by DeJoy and his wife (Dr. Aldona Wos, whose nomination to be the next U.S. ambassador to Canada is pending) to the Duke University athletic department was mysteriously followed by their son Andrew getting a walk-on spot on the tennis team full of top national and international prospects. Which Andrew was not. Anyway, yeah, lots of what looks like bribes all through his personal and professional life […]

    David C. Williams, a former Postal Service inspector general […] said that “Governor Barger actually helped him [DeJoy] finish a number of sentences before he got stuck” in one interview. How’d he get there? It sure looks like it was through Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. […] all through the spring he [Mnuchin] was leaning very, very hard on the board, and according to Williams, using a line of credit that would be extended to the service for coronavirus relief as leverage for taking control over much of the agency’s operations. The USPS is an independent agency, completely outside of the Treasury Department. “The Treasury was using that responsibility to make demands that I believed would turn the Postal Service into a political tool […]″ Williams told the Congressional Progressive Caucus last month.

    … three separate email chains referencing calls with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other agency officials over nine days in early April. Two people familiar with the matter say Treasury drove a hard line, demanding operating control over the agency in exchange for the $10 billion congressionally approved loan. Such a demand was unprecedented, postal experts said, and appeared to lead the USPS to hire another law firm in the spring to study the legality of the issue. That firm, Mayer Brown, concluded that Treasury’s request was illegal. [text excerpt quoted from The Washington Post]

    Mnuchin backed off by mid-April from his effort to just take over the Postal Service outright. DeJoy appeared on the scene in April, during the time Mnuchin was trying to effect a takeover of the agency. He was selected in May and took on the job in June. S. David Fineman, a former chairman of the board of governors, told AP that Mnuchin’s involvement was “unprecedented” and said many questions remain about why drastic changes were put in place so soon after DeJoy became postmaster general. “You put together this piece and you put together that piece and it just doesn’t add up,” Fineman said.

    Here’s another element of the whole rotten deal that makes it very good that the federal courts are involved, because it sure as hell seems like Trump staying in office is a big part of the plan. In the documents the Post obtained are documents showing that the “USPS occasionally relied on the legal counsel of well-connected Republicans, including Stefan C. Passantino, who once served as a top White House lawyer under President Trump.” He was brought in by Duncan (the friend of McConnell, Trump booster, former RNC guy). Passantino’s new role in the Trump circle is as “part of a new pro-Trump legal coalition preparing for the possibility of a contested election, a relationship that has raised new ethical flags among the administration’s critics.”

    “I see President Trump’s fingerprints all over,” Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight told the Post. “It’s clear from the president’s public comments, and the actions of his administration, he has a major agenda for the post office—and we see a lot of it in black and white here.” He added, “Why did the Postal Service need the services of Stefan Passantino when his primary claim to fame, the primary reason you hire him, is to carry out Donald Trump’s personal and political defense work?”

    There’s a lot more in those documents from the Post to be plumbed. But what is immediately clear is that DeJoy is not there to make the Postal Service great again. He’s there to cripple it, screw up the mail-in vote to help Trump’s reelection, and then sell the scraps to the companies he still has a financial stake in. He’s got to go.

  25. says

    Follow-up to comment 21.

    And … another Republican Senator falls in line, saying he will support McConnell.

    Graham signals support for confirming a Supreme Court nominee this year

    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) signaled he intends to support President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) efforts to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court this year after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Friday.

    The South Carolina senator pointed to recent statements he’s made saying that he would back the filling of a vacancy in 2020 before the election.

    “After [Brett] Kavanaugh, the rules have changed as far as I’m concerned,” he said in an August article he highlighted, apparently referencing the acrimony over Kavanaugh’s confirmation in 2018. [Bullshit]

    […] [Graham] said a vacancy in 2020 would be handled differently than in 2016, when the Senate GOP blocked a pick from former President Barack Obama, because this year the same party controls the Senate and White House. [bullshit excuse, bullshit explanation]

    “Well, Merrick Garland was a different situation. You had the president of one party nominating, and you had the Senate in the hands of the other party. A situation where you’ve got them both would be different. I don’t want to speculate, but I think appointing judges is a high priority for me in 2020,” Graham said in May of this year. […]

    Graham’s remarks come after Democrats flooded social media with video of Graham from 2016 saying he’d uphold the same standard Republicans set that year in 2020.

    “I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination,” Graham said in the resurfaced video from 2016.

    Graham is just the latest of several GOP senators to say they would support efforts to fill the vacancy this year, and Trump and McConnell have already said they intend to move forward with a nominee. […]

    “I fully understand where President @realDonaldTrump is coming from,” Graham responded. […]

    I predict that all of the Republicans in the Senate will be in full-speed-ahead mode to replace Ginsburg.

    Democrats can bemoan their hypocrisy all they want, but that won’t affect Republicans. Constituents and Democratic Senators have to actually take action. See comment 23.

  26. tomh says

    Trump says Republicans have an “obligation” to fill Ginsburg’s seat
    Jacob Knutson

    President Trump wrote in a tweet Saturday morning that Republicans have an “obligation” to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court following her death Friday.

    “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,” the president said, tagging the Republican Party. “We have this obligation, without delay!”

    This is a done deal. Trying to find 4 Republican senators to buck the tide is worse than the old needle in a haystack.

  27. says

    tomh, @26, I agree. Come hell or high water, they’re going to do it. Now we have to figure out how to deal with it.

    Also, I really don’t get how some people can still hold onto the belief that Republicans will honor what they said before. That’s not going to happen.

  28. tomh says

    Lynna @27
    Yeah, I see it as a big break for Trump. It looks like this will overwhelm issues like his botching of the pandemic and all his other disasters, at least for now, as it moves the spotlight to McConnell and the Senate. The more time the Democrats spend on whining about hypocrisy, the less time they will have to attack Trump on things that matter and that people might listen to.

  29. John Morales says


    The more time the Democrats spend on whining about hypocrisy, the less time they will have to attack Trump on things that matter and that people might listen to.

    How different would it have been had you written “calling out hypocrisy”, instead.

    (But sure, hypocrisy isn’t something that matters — to you)

  30. tomh says

    Trump’s health secretary asserts control over all new rules, including for vaccines

    Heath and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar wrote a memo this week giving him authority over all new rules and banning any of the health agencies, including the FDA, from signing any “regarding the nation’s foods, medicines, medical devices and other products, including vaccines,” the New York Times reports…

    …Dr. Peter Lurie, a former associate commissioner of the FDA, told the Times the Azar memo amounted to a “power grab.”

    Brian Harrison, Azar’s chief of staff, told the Times the changes were simply a “housekeeping matter.”

  31. says

    How Arizona’s Senate Race Could Impact SCOTUS Confirmation Fight

    Yes, it’s true. Mark Kelly could make a difference.

    If Arizona Democrat Mark Kelly wins a seat in the U.S. Senate, he could take office as early as Nov. 30, shrinking the GOP’s Senate majority at a crucial moment and complicating the path to confirmation for […] Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

    Kelly has maintained a consistent polling lead over Republican Sen. Martha McSally, who was appointed to the seat held by John McCain, who died in 2018.

    Because the contest is a special election to finish McCain’s term, the winner could be sworn in as soon as the results are officially certified. Other winners in the November election won’t take office until January.

    Trump has pledged to nominate a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal icon who died Friday, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed that Trump’s nominee “will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

    If Kelly wins, the timing when he formally takes office could be crucial in determining who replaces Ginsburg. It could eliminate a Republican vote in favor of Trump’s nominee — the GOP currently has 53 seats in the 100-member chamber — or require McConnell to speed up the nomination process.

    With McSally in the Senate, four GOP defections could defeat a nomination, while a tie vote could be broken by Vice President Mike Pence. […]

    “If Mark Kelly comes out on top, HE could block President Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee from being confirmed,” she [McSally] wrote.

    […] Arizona law requires election results to be officially certified on the fourth Monday after the election, which falls this year on Nov. 30. The certification could be delayed up to three days if the state has not received election results from any of the 15 counties.

    Mary O’Grady, a Democratic lawyer with expertise in election law, said the deadlines are firm and there’s little room for delay. […]

  32. says

    From Republican Senator Susan Collins:

    President Trump has the constitutional authority to make a nomination to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, and I would have no objection to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s beginning the process of reviewing his nominee’s credentials. Given the proximity of the presidential election, however, I do not believe that the Senate should vote on the nominee prior to the election.

    In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd.

  33. says

    Pelosi Refuses to Rule Out Impeachment to Delay Supreme Court Confirmation

    “Protecting our democracy requires us to use every arrow in our quiver.”

    […] “We have our options,” Pelosi told George Stephanopoulos when he asked her about speculation that the House could impeach Trump or Attorney General William Barr to delay the Supreme Court confirmation process. “We have arrows in our quiver that I’m not about to discuss right now.”

    Pelosi said she was uninterested in using the threat of a government shutdown to stall the confirmation. But everything else, it appears, is on the table: “We take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. We have a responsibility to meet the needs of the American people,” she told Stephanopoulos with a smile. “Protecting our democracy requires us to use every arrow in our quiver.”

    Pelosi also did not answer when asked if she would consider expanding the number of justices on the court next term, if Democrats were to win the Senate. “We should be very calm, we should be inspired by Ruth Bader Ginsberg,” she said. “She was brilliant, and she was strategic, and she was successful.”

  34. says

    From Wonkette:

    […] When people tell you who they are, believe them. Republicans do not act in good faith, with this, or anything else. Ever. There is no consistency that we can count on, outside of the fact that they will always act in bad faith and they will always be trolls. Operate on that assumption, now and forever.

    […] This should be seen as a freeing moment for anyone still hanging on to the idea that there is any kind of logical consistency with the way the Right acts or what they believe. There isn’t. Not a single thing. Think “Oh, they can’t criticize a veteran?” They can absolutely criticize a veteran. Think “Well, they can’t call so-and-so a socialist?” They can call anyone they damn well want a socialist. Think that if you “just let them have” whatever thing it is they want that they’ll return the favor? They won’t. Think if you’re careful to be reasonable and not to “go to far” or do anything that you think will “frighten” them that they won’t act like whatever it is you do end up doing is the equivalent of stabbing them in the face several times? Because they totally will. […]

    There is only being strongly and steadfastly ourselves and not paying attention to Republicans or what they want, only what we want and what we want to do for other people. That’s it.


  35. says

    The Top Contender for RBG’s Seat Has a Fundamentally Cruel Vision of the Law

    Here’s what we can expect if Trump fills the late justice’s seat.

    […] The consensus among legal and political analysts is that Judge Amy Coney Barrett, whom Trump placed on a federal appeals court in 2017, is the leading candidate to fill Ginsburg’s seat. Barrett gained fame during her confirmation hearing after Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein made inappropriate comments about the judge’s devout Catholic faith. She is a hardcore conservative, but that description doesn’t quite capture how radically her jurisprudence differs from Ginsburg’s. The justice viewed the Bill of Rights and civil rights acts as generous guarantees of human dignity that must be read expansively to achieve their purpose. By contrast, Barrett’s view of the law is fundamentally cruel. During her three years on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, Barrett has either written or joined a remarkable number of opinions that harm […] powerless individuals who rely on the judiciary to safeguard their rights.

    Faced with two plausible readings of a law, fact, or precedent, Barrett always seems to choose the harsher, stingier interpretation. Can job applicants sue employers whose policies have a disproportionately deleterious impact on older people? Barrett said no. Should courts halt the deportation of an immigrant who faced torture at home? Barrett said no. Should they protect refugees denied asylum on the basis of xenophobic prejudice? Barrett said no. Should they shield prisoners from unjustified violence by correctional officers? Barrett said no. Should minors be allowed to terminate a pregnancy without telling their parents if a judge has found that they’re mature enough to make the decision? Barrett said no. Should women be permitted to obtain an abortion upon discovering a severe fetal abnormality? Barrett said no.

    There is no question that, if confirmed, Barrett would cast the fifth vote to either hollow out Roe v. Wade or overturn it altogether. Similarly, there is no doubt that Barrett would dramatically expand the Second Amendment, invalidating gun control measures around the country. It’s quite possible, perhaps even likely, that within a year of her confirmation, Americans will be forbidden from terminating a pregnancy in 21 states—but permitted to purchase assault weapons and carry firearms in public in every state.

    Abortion and guns, however, are just the beginning. Barrett’s confirmation would heighten the odds that the Supreme Court will eradicate the entire Affordable Care Act in 2021, stripping health insurance from more than 20 million people. […]

    Barrett and her conservative colleagues would also take a machete to the thicket of laws that protect the health and safety of millions of Americans. The current conservative justices have already telegraphed their desire to invalidate federal statutes that direct executive agencies to limit pollution, guard against labor exploitation, monitor Wall Street, and protect consumers from predatory practices. Barrett’s confirmation would be a catastrophe for the climate: She may well overrule the landmark 5–4 decision, long despised by conservatives, that compels the federal government to regulate carbon emissions. Even if Congress passes new legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the court’s conservative supermajority may strike it down, much as the Republican-appointed justices blocked the Clean Power Plan in 2016.

  36. says

    Crowd Cheers as the President Gloats About This One Time the Cops Shot a Reporter With a Rubber Bullet for No Reason

    Friday, at a rally in Bemidji, Minnesota, […] Trump told his audience a story about the MSNBC journalist Ali Velshi. “I remember this guy Velshi,” the president said (he pronounced it “Welshy”):

    He got hit on the knee with a canister of tear gas. And he went down. He didn’t—heeee was down. ‘My knee! My knee!’ [Crowd laughs] Nobody cared, these guys didn’t care. They moved him aside. [Crowd laughs.] And they just walked right through—it was like, it was the most beautiful thing. No, because after we take all that crap for weeks and weeks, they would take this crap. And then you finally see men get up there and [punches fist forward] go right through, did—wasn’t it really a beautiful sight? [Crowd cheers.]

    It’s called law and order. Law and order!

    […] The president’s remarks celebrating police violence against a reporter, to the delight of a laughing and hooting crowd, were just one more thing the president said. […]

    Because Velshi was in the middle of reporting from Minneapolis when the police attacked him and his crew, the incident the president was talking about was recorded on camera and broadcast on television, and it is available to watch. It was during the unrest in Minnesota in May, after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.

    None of it happened the way the president described: The police had showed up on the scene and begun firing tear gas, unprovoked, at the protesters and reporters there. Velshi himself was hit with a rubber bullet, not a gas canister. (He and his crew had been gassed, but not hit with canisters, earlier in the segment.) In the video, he never says “My knee! My knee!”; he says “Oh, shit!” when the bullet hits him, and then “All right, guys, I got hit. Yeah, I got hit. Hold on.” He does not fall down, but limps over to the curb and then leans against a car. The police do not move him aside, but remain down the block, where they fired from, as MSNBC cuts away to another reporter on a different part of the protest scene.

    What [Trump] offered, and [Trump’s] crowd cheered for, was a punched-up, fictionalized version of events: a helpless, whimpering reporter pushed aside by bold, aggressive police action. The actual, desultory brutality of it wasn’t enough. Trump had to lie about it, to give the crowd a story of police whose ruthlessness they could admire, and a reporter they could despise. That was what they’d come for. That’s what he gives them.

    A sickening video snippet is available at the link. Hear the rabid crowd roar.

  37. says

    From Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska:

    For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election. Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed.

    I did not support taking up a nomination eight months before the 2016 election to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Justice Scalia. We are now even closer to the 2020 election — less than two months out — and I believe the same standard must apply.

  38. says

    ActBlue raises $100 million in 38 hours after Supreme Court announced Ginsburg’s death.

    Washington Post link

    The Democratic fundraising platform ActBlue announced Sunday it has raised $100 million from small-dollar donors since news broke Friday night of Ginsburg’s death, in a sign Democrats are rapidly mobilizing ahead of a potential Supreme Court nomination battle.

    “Small-dollar donors have now given $100 million on ActBlue since 8 p.m. ET Friday, investing in candidates up and down the ballot and orgs on the front lines of the impending judicial confirmation fight,” ActBlue said in a tweet Sunday morning. “The grassroots is ready to fight to honor Justice Ginsburg’s legacy.”

    By contrast, the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and two affiliated fundraising committees raised $210 million in all of August. ActBlue has raised nearly half that amount in the 38 hours since the Supreme Court announced Ginsburg had died.

  39. tomh says

    Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she doesn’t support filling Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat before the election

    Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — one of several closely watched Republican senators who could play a crucial role in a vote — said Sunday that she does not support filling Ginsburg’s seat before the November election. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Saturday that whoever is elected in November should nominate Ginsburg’s replacement.

    Both of them have said they “don’t support” it, neither one has said they will vote against it.

  40. says

    Trump celebrates with his faithful over a chance to replace a liberal icon with a conservative on the Supreme Court

    Washington Post link

    […] Trump told a crowd here [North Carolina] he would nominate a woman to the Supreme Court next week while basking in the loud repeated chants of “Fill that seat!” after jokingly polling the crowd of supporters over whether he should pick a man or a woman.

    The president’s upcoming choice of a Supreme Court nominee — which has jolted the presidential race with about six weeks to go — took center stage during his airplane tarmac rally, with a crowd raucously responding to his rally rhetoric.

    […] Trump even seemed taken aback, and pleased, by the crowd repeatedly cheering “Fill that seat!” about 24 hours after the death of the justice. He said he would have his campaign team make T-shirts.

    “That’s what we are going to do. We’re going to fill that seat,” Trump said.

    But after he vowed to replace Ginsburg with a woman — and to do it next week — he took two polls, which he described jokingly as “very scientific” about whether he should pick a woman or a man. For minutes he talked about the issue before veering off to other topics. He then predicted that the news media would attack him for surveying the crowd.

    “Thom Tillis said yes,” he said of picking a woman, referring to an offstage conversation he had with the state’s junior Republican senator, who is in a tough reelection battle.

    Picking a woman got far more chants than picking a man — which pleased [Trump].

    “That’s a very accurate poll because that’s the way I feel,” he said. “I actually like women much more than I like men. I have to say.” […]

    More at the link, including a description of the vigil held for Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Washington D.C.

  41. says

    tomh @39, “Both of them have said they “don’t support” it, neither one has said they will vote against it.”

    Yeah, I noticed that. Those Republican Senators are giving themselves some wiggle room. They may fall in line later and vote like McConnell demands.

  42. says

    Democratic super PAC to hit Trump in battleground states over coronavirus deaths

    That sounds like a good approach to me. After all, 200,000+ people have died in the coronavirus pandemic in the USA … and Trump is in charge, with his stupid “thumb’s up” look and his lies.

    Maybe this is branding that Trump will appreciate?

    […] Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic is the target of a new ad set to launch in the battleground states of Nevada and North Carolina that accuses [Trump] of lying about the virus based on recordings released of his interviews earlier this year with Bob Woodward.

    Democratic super PAC MeidasTouch’s 60-second ad, exclusively shared with The Hill on Sunday, hits Trump over his conflicting public and private comments about the coronavirus. [Video available at the link.]

    “He lied. People died,” the narrator of the ad says.

    The ad is backed by a six-figure TV buy in North Carolina and Nevada. Trump carried North Carolina in 2016; he lost Nevada to then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

    Recent polls have shown a tight race in North Carolina between Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Other polls have shown Biden leading Trump in Nevada.

    The ad cuts clips of what Trump said publicly about the virus with recordings of his interviews with Woodward for his new book “Rage,” in which the president acknowledged the threat of the virus and that he was downplaying its threat to the nation.

    “The facts are clear: Donald Trump’s intentional effort to suppress critical information about the disproportionate dangers of COVID-19 has now killed over 200,000 Americans. The families of the deceased Americans will never be the same, and the President is directly responsible,” said Brett Meiselas, one of the founders of the PAC.

    “We are excited to double down on our investments in providing air cover in key battleground states to continue exposing Donald Trump as an unparalleled and irredeemable cancer on America,” he added. […]

  43. says

    Class Acts Wohl And Burkman Hysterically Scream At People Mourning Ginsburg’s Death

    Wonkette link

    If any of us were Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, we would be laying low right now. Why, just this week, he and his weird friend got caught trying to stage an FBI raid on Burkman’s house because they stiffed the actors they hired to pretend to be FBI agents. That is embarrassing. Like, all of it. Including the fact that they didn’t even have friends they could ask to pretend to be the FBI agents.

    But Wohl and Burkman are not laying low. In fact, last night, they went out on the town, with a megaphone, in order to “troll” people paying respect to deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, gleefully yelling that “Roe v Wade” is dead. […]

    Truly, what is more “pro-life” than harassing people at a memorial? The Westboro Baptist Church was fond of that tactic as well. In fact, Wohl and Burkman’s entire brand could actually be defined as “Westboro Baptist Church, but with fewer people and make it stupid. Well, more stupid.”

    Naturally, Jim Hoft, The Stupidest Man On The Internet, was thrilled by this. Because boy, did they ever show us! People got mad at them for acting like assholes, which means they win. You may recall these rules of engagement from middle school. […]

    Let us note that when Wohl and Burkman needed people to pretend to be FBI agents and raid Burkman’s home in order to make it look like the FBI was super interested in whatever it was they had on James Mattis, Jim Hoft was nowhere to be found. Wohl and Burkman had to resort to Craigslist and ended up getting screwed because they didn’t pay the people they hired from Craigslist.

    Now, I know that some people may be thinking “Jeez, why are we even paying attention to these people?” The answer is that we pay attention to them because they are embarrassing and stupid and we gotta do better at making Republicans own their embarrassing and stupid shit, instead of graciously ignoring it because it is so beneath us. That only helps them.

    Video snippets are available at the link.

  44. says

    From Jane Mayer, writing for The New Yorker:

    As the Democrats weigh their options about how to stop Mitch McConnell from filling Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Supreme Court seat, one tactic that they should forget about immediately is arguing that it would be hypocritical of McConnell to jam in a new Justice so close to an election. Obviously, it nakedly is, given that Ginsburg died forty-five days before the 2020 election, and this was McConnell’s rationale for blocking Barack Obama’s nominee two hundred and sixty-nine days before the 2016 election. But anyone familiar with the Republican senator from Kentucky’s long political career knows he couldn’t care less about hypocrisy; like […] Trump, he is immune to shame.

    “McConnell will do anything that serves his interests. We know that,” Norman Ornstein told me, shortly after learning of Ginsburg’s death. Ornstein, a political scientist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute whose expertise is Congress, has known every Senate Majority Leader during the past fifty years—including McConnell, quite well. The question now, though, is how McConnell will define his self-interest. […]

    behind closed doors McConnell has been raising money from big conservative donors for months by promising that no matter how close it might be to the election, he would install Trump’s Supreme Court pick. As a former Trump White House official told me, “McConnell’s been telling our donors that when R.B.G. meets her reward, even if it’s October, we’re getting our judge. He’s saying it’s our October surprise.”

    But now that the moment is here, the calculation isn’t quite so simple. On Friday night, McConnell released a statement vowing that a Trump nominee “will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.” While McConnell’s obstruction of Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, made him the bane of liberals, he has regarded it with pride as the single “most important decision I’ve made in my political career.” He and many others believe it handed Trump his victory by motivating the politically powerful evangelical bloc to vote for Trump, despite their doubts about him, because he promised to fill the Court vacancy with a social conservative. It’s entirely possible that the same scenario will play out again this November, with Trump and McConnell offering another enticing gift to evangelicals.

    But McConnell is also what Ornstein calls “a ruthless pragmatist,” whose No. 1 goal has always been to remain Majority Leader of the Senate. He’s made the conservative makeover of the federal court system his pet project, but if he faces a choice between another right-wing Justice or keeping his control of the Senate, no one who knows him well thinks he’d hesitate for a moment to do whatever is necessary to stay in power. […]

    The problem for McConnell now is that it may be impossible for him to both confirm a new Justice and hold onto his personal power as Majority Leader. A power grab for the Court that is too brutish may provoke so much outrage among Democrats and independents that it could undermine Republican Senate candidates in November. As he knows better than anyone, polls show that Republican hopes of holding the Senate are very much in doubt. If Joe Biden is elected, enabling a Democratic Vice-President to cast the deciding vote in the Senate, Democrats need only to pick up three seats to win a majority. And, at the moment, according to recent polls, Democratic challengers stand good chances against Republican incumbents in Maine, Arizona, and Colorado. Democrats also have shots at capturing seats in South Carolina and Iowa.

    […] Given those complications, Ornstein predicts, McConnell may “use some elements of delay.” McConnell conspicuously laid out no timetable when promising a Senate vote for Trump’s nominee. Ornstein speculates that he may hold off on a vote until after the election to provide cover for his members but, meanwhile, obtain private pledges of support from them. It would mean he’d have the votes to ram a confirmation through the Senate during the lame-duck period after the election, regardless of who has won the White House.

    Senate watchers suggest that the first thing that McConnell probably did after learning of Ginsburg’s death was to call every member of his caucus, in order to make an assessment about whether it would help or hurt his members to force a Supreme Court confirmation vote. On Friday night, he also issued a thinly veiled warning to his caucus members to shut up, or, as he put it, “be cautious and keep your powder dry.” […]

    […] Since the nation’s founding, the Senate had confirmed seventeen Supreme Court nominees in election years [at the time when Scalia died]. Moreover, the “American people” had made a choice—they had elected Obama. But, despite declaring themselves as conservatives who respect precedent, McConnell, in consultation with Leo, simply invented a new rule to cover their radical defiance of past precedents and accepted norms. […]

    New Yorker link

    More at the link.

  45. says

    Bits and pieces of campaign news, as summarized by Steve Benen:

    […] the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll found Biden ahead among likely voters nationwide, 52% to 43%. The gender gap is enormous — Trump leads by four points among men, while Biden leads by 22 points among women — but the education gap is even bigger: Trump leads by seven points among those without college degrees, while Biden leads by 31 points among those with college degrees.

    Yeah, so that’s why Trump and his lackey Betsy DeVos, (current United States Secretary of Education), are damaging the educational system in the USA.

    In a striking sign of the times, Hungary’s anti-democratic prime minister, Viktor Orban, is now publicly supporting Trump’s re-election bid, condemning Democrats for supporting “moral imperialism.”

    * How did Democratic donors respond to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing? In part by grabbing their wallets: in the 9 p.m. (E.T.) hour, ActBlue received $6.2 million, which was a record for the donation-processing site. In the following hour, donors gave another $6.3 million. […]

    * At a campaign event on Friday night, Trump said, in reference to Biden and the coming election, “If I lose to him, I don’t know what I’m gonna do. I will never speak to you again. You’ll never see me again.” Some suggested that’d be an effective Democratic ad. Team Biden apparently agreed, turning it into a 10-second video that’s been seen 14 million times.


    Ha! That last bit is funny. You can view the video here:

  46. tomh says

    Justice Dept. targets Portland, New York and Seattle over protests
    By Devlin Barrett
    September 21, 2020

    The Justice Department labeled the cities of Portland, Ore., New York and Seattle on Monday as jurisdictions “that have permitted violence and destruction of property,” targeting them for possible cuts in federal funding.

    Following a memorandum that President Trump issued earlier this month, the Justice Department published a list of cities that the White House wants to get more aggressive on civil unrest in the wake of police shootings and killings.

    “We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted,” Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement…

    The three cities the Justice Department identified are the same ones listed in the president’s original memorandum…

    The Trump administration said it is considering adding other cities to the list, if officials withdraw officers from policing problem areas, or if a city leader “disempowers or defunds” police departments or “unreasonably refuses” to accept law enforcement assistance from the federal government. The Justice Department may also add cities to the list based on “any other related factors the Attorney General deems appropriate,” the department said in its announcement.

  47. says

    As US death toll tops 200,000, Trump moves the goalposts (again)

    Trump boasted that if domestic fatalities could be lower than 200,000, it would be proof that he did “a very good job.” The goalposts are now on the move.

    […] it was on April 20 — five months ago yesterday — when Donald Trump said he believed the overall American death toll from the pandemic would be between 50,000 and 60,000 people. Later that week, the president’s forecast had already been exposed as tragically wrong.

    Exactly one week later, on April 27, Trump said the overall American death toll would “probably” be between 60,000 and 70,000 people. It took about four days for this projection to be discredited, too.

    On April 29, the president suggested the number of fatalities in the United States could be as low as 65,000. Predictably, we soon after passed that projected total.

    On May 3, Trump acknowledged that he was moving the goalposts again. “I used to say 65,000,” the Republican said, pointing to a total he promoted just a few days earlier. “And now I’m saying 80,000 or 90,000.” At the same event, the president upped the projection once more: “Look, we’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people.”

    A few days later, the Republican said fatalities could reach 110,000 — a total the United States eclipsed over the summer. In June, Trump decided it was time to move the goalposts much further, declaring his belief that the domestic death toll “could be heading” to 200,000, “depending on how it goes.”

    In fact, at one point, the president boasted that if the number of U.S. fatalities could be lower than 200,000, it would be proof that the White House did “a very good job.”

    Tragically, we crossed the 200,000-death threshold over the weekend. Asked about this late last week, [Trump] did his best to characterize failure as a success — while simultaneously moving the goalposts for the eighth time.

    “[I]f you look at the initial projections, it was up to 240, 250 thousand if everybody did their job…. If we did a really good job, with the shutdown, which we did, it would be 240 — up to 240, 250 thousand people…. We have done a phenomenal job with respect to COVID-19.”

    Trump went on to say he and his team have “done an incredible job,” adding, “The numbers are amazing. We’ve done a great job…. We have done an incredible job. Throughout the world, I get called by prime ministers and presidents saying, ‘Sir, the job you’ve done is amazing.'” [Big pile of bullshit.]

    Asked to identify these unnamed prime ministers and presidents who’ve praised his catastrophic performance, [Trump] abruptly ended the Q&A with reporters.

    […] the pattern is unmistakable: Trump’s standard for success never seems to stay in place for long. It wasn’t long ago when Americans were told the domestic death toll could top out at 200,000, and now that this gut-wrenching total has been cleared, the president has some new numbers for us to focus on: 240,000 and 250,000.

    We can all hope the United States never reaches these higher death tolls, but if we do, there Trump will stand, assuring us that he’s nevertheless succeeded, and it will be time to replant the goalposts once more.

  48. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    1: There is no serious or credible way to fight to prevent another corrupt high Court appointment without promising to add seats to the Court if Democrats control the White House and the Senate next year. Anything short of that amounts to playacting.

    2: I don’t expect Joe Biden to push this line. It is probably politically best that he not do so. Clearly the very idea of it cuts against every bit of his experience. But he also mustn’t rule it out. The optimal position for him is to focus on the wrongness of another corrupt nomination and say he hopes the President doesn’t force a future Democratic Senate to do so.

    3: A few readers have told me this all amounts to ‘taking the bait’ and recasting the final month of the election as a battle over abortion rights. I think this is incorrect on a few levels – not only factually in the immediate sense but also in the implicit judgments contained within it. Regardless of one’s tactical or strategic judgments, these corrupt appointments to the Court go vastly beyond the choice issue. They amount to a decades’ long veto over any progressive legislation […] When I say ‘progressive’ here I mean it in the more expansive sense. We may be on the cusp of the Court overturning Obamacare on the most facially flimsy or preposterous grounds. Nor is it only about legislation. It is also about locking in anti-democratic tools for entrenching Republican power – voter ID, poll taxes, Census-rigging. The choice issue is absolutely critical and very much on the line here. But you’re fooling yourself if you think this is uniquely or even mostly about choice or reproductive rights. It’s about locking in Republican power that can’t be won at the ballot box.

    4: I have seen a number of people say that Democrats shouldn’t limit themselves to nullifying corrupt Court appointments. They should also promise to abolish the filibuster and admit DC and Puerto Rico to the Union as states. This is a mistake. Those things should happen regardless. We shouldn’t make them contingent on Republican actions.

  49. says

    Trump issued some more threats:

    […] Trump predicted on Monday morning that Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), who is up for reelection this year, and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) will be hurt politically by their pledge to hold off on approving a new Supreme Court justice before Election Day.

    “I think Susan Collins is very badly hurt by her statement yesterday, and I think Murkowski is very badly hurt,” Trump said during a phone interview on “Fox and Friends.”

    [Trump] told the Fox News hosts that Murkowski’s decision will “follow her” come 2022, when her term is up.

    Trump also complained that the Alaska Republican hadn’t worked enough for him, grousing that “nobody’s ever done so much more for so little.”

    “And I think that Susan Collins is going to be hurt very badly,” the President said again. “Her people are not going to take this.”

    On Saturday, Collins announced that whoever wins the presidential election should choose the successor to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

    “In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd,” she stated.

    Murkowski joined Collins the next day, stating that “for weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election.”

    “Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed,” she continued.

    Two more defections from the GOP would block Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) efforts to replace Ginsburg.


  50. says

    Aaron Rupar pointed out that Trump lied about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s last wishes:

    “I don’t know that she said that, or was that written out by Adam Schiff & Schumer & Pelosi? I would be more inclined for the second” — Trump claims Schiff, Schumer, & Pelosi actually wrote RBG’s dying statement, & suggests she’d actually be fine w/him nominating her replacement.

    See comment #2.

  51. says

    From Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:

    It’s extraordinarily important that we understand the stakes of this vacancy. Our reproductive rights are on the line. Our labor rights are on the line. Our right to healthcare is on the line. Labor and union protections are on the line. Our climate is on the line. [I would add that out voting rights are on the line.]

    […] We must commit to allowing and to considering and to utilizing every single procedural tool available to us to buy that time. We all need to be more courageous and we all must act in unprecedented ways to make sure that our rights are stabilized.

    And to Mitch McConnell, we need to tell him that he is playing with fire.

  52. says

    Trump signals he may not accept vote results as Republican fascist rhetoric soars

    As the November elections approach, Donald Trump and his allies have been forced to contemplate the unthinkable. Not only is there a real possibility that Trump loses his reelection bid, it is possible that his party will lose control of the Senate.

    It is in this context that Trump in particular is ratcheting up overtly fascist rhetoric. He is being amplified by others of his party, but Trump is uniquely unable to couch his instinctive, narcissistic-driven authoritarian impulses in a layer of plausible deniability. Trump is praising violence against his perceived opponents, embracing notions of “genetic” superiority, engaging in relentless false propaganda intended to cast doubt on the validity of elections and, increasingly, suggesting that he will not necessarily abide by the votes cast in November. Not if they come “by mail.”

    Trump is now more openly suggesting that it will not be up to voters, but the “federal court system” to determine the winner of the election, setting up with near-certainty a election eve crisis in which Trump declares victory as the first votes arrive while using the Department of Justice—specifically, William Barr—to block further vote counting from taking place.

    […] “Now we’re counting on the federal court system to make it so we can actually have an evening where we know who wins. Not where the votes are going to be counted a week later, or two weeks later.”

    That last quote from Trump, above, makes me think that he has already discussed this with William Barr.

    […] • Attorney General William Barr [said] “It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    JFC. See also the quote from Viktor Orban in comment 45.

    […] Multiple times over the weekend, Trump explicitly celebrated violence against opponents and protesters. “They beat the hell out of these guys,” Trump gushed in praise of law enforcement attacks on protesters allegedly attempting to topple a statue. He was more giddy over police injuring a reporter.

    See comment 36.

    […] Trump again declared the American media to be “the enemy of the people.” This is the bellow of authoritarian nations, and only authoritarian nations.

    • On Fox News, host Mark Levin capped off a long tirade asserting the “Democrat Party” to be “the party of antifa, the party of Black Lives Matter” by declaring that “This mob, one way or another, will be crushed. If they’re not crushed at the voting booth, they will be crushed otherwise.” Fox hosts have repeatedly suggested that extralegal or violent means might be necessary to defeat “antifa,” police reform protesters, and Democrats; this is only the latest in a long string of network figures either giving sympathies to those that do violence against movement enemies or insinuating that such actions may be acceptable, or even welcomed.

    • Trump is now overtly calling for a “patriotic education” program he intends as direct counter to lessons describing slavery and segregation. “We’re taking school funds away from these crazy schools that are teaching horrible things. […] We will teach our children the truth about America, that we are the most exceptional nation on the face of the Earth and we are getting better every single day.”

    • In another nod toward his own affection for theories of genetic superiority, Trump praised his white Minnesota audience. “You have good genes, you know that, right? You have good genes. A lot of it is about the genes, isn’t it, don’t you believe? The racehorse theory. You think we’re so different? You have good genes in Minnesota.” His opponent, declared Trump, would instead “turn Minnesota into a refugee camp.” Again: This is overtly fascist, eliminationist rhetoric. It is not subtle.

    • The merging of state and corporate business continues, with Trump claiming to have successfully demanded a “cut” of the deal that would see social networking giant TikTok partner with Trump-allied companies Oracle and Walmart to avoid Trump-imposed sanctions. He claimed he agreed to the deal “in concept”—not generally a power granted to a president—and boasted that the deal would indeed include an attached bonus to his government: $5 billion donated toward “a very large fund for the education of American youth,” which Trump described as “the contribution I’ve been asking for.” Corporate dealmaking often has to run a gauntlet of federal regulators, but seldom has one of the demands been, bluntly, a cash payment.

    • Meanwhile, the same rhetoric continues. Despite taking a leave of absence from the Department of Health and Human Services, after publicly releasing a Facebook video ranting about a supposed “deep state” plot inside the Centers of Disease Control to damage Trump by releasing scientific findings at odds with Trump’s own bizarre and often-conflicting pandemic claims, ex-Trump campaign official wholeheartedly embraced those same theories in a new pro-Trump radio interview. The claims are obviously false, but the notion of a “resistance unit” or other “deep state” conspiracies plotting against Trump have been used repeatedly as justification for gutting watchdog, oversight, and scientific efforts undertaken by government agencies seen as insufficiently loyal to Trump. […]

    We are now in a dire position. The supposed president is now suggesting that he will use the tools of government to block Americans from voting. […]

    It is likely to get worse, and in direct proportion to Republican reelection prospects. And if Trump, Fox News, and the various crawling things of the internet are all nodding that violence and extralegal acts may be necessary to defend their victory, violence appears all but certain.

    See also video of Trump supporters blocking the entrance to an early-voting site in Virginia.

  53. says

    Follow-up to comments 31 and 44.

    It’s possible that Mitch McConnell sees the writing on the wall: Democrats may well take the majority in the Senate in the next election. Therefore, Mitch may well be willing to burn all his bridges now. He will not let anything stop him from making more appointments to the courts, including the Supreme Court.

  54. says

    RCMP probe underway into contaminated letter addressed to White House

    The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said its “Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives team” is leading the operation in the suburb of Saint-Hubert.

    Canadian police are conducting an operation near Montreal related to an investigation into an envelope addressed to the White House that reportedly contained the poison ricin.

    The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Monday on Twitter that its “Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives team” is leading the operation in the suburb of Saint-Hubert. Local police and firefighters are also on site. […]

    The investigation Monday followed last week’s interception, as the Associated Press has reported, of a contaminated letter at a facility that scans incoming White House mail.

    AP reported Sunday that a woman suspected of sending an envelope was arrested at the New York-Canada border near Buffalo.

  55. says

    Carol Anderson explains what happens when our voting rights laws start to crumble.

    In 1965, the United States began a grand experiment: We decided to finally have free and fair elections.

    Before President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the United States was more or less a white ethnostate. As Johnson explained in an address to Congress proposing that law, “every device of which human ingenuity is capable” was used in the South to deny Black people the right to vote.

    The Voting Rights Act, and especially a provision of that act requiring states with a history of racism to “preclear” new voting laws with federal officials before those laws could take effect, may be the most effective civil rights law in American history. On the day the Voting Rights Act was signed, only about 5 percent of Black Mississippians were registered to vote.

    Two years later, that number was 60 percent.

    Yet in decisions like Shelby County v. Holder (2013) and Abbott v. Perez (2018), the Supreme Court dismantled much of this landmark voting rights law.

    […] a new podcast miniseries lays out what happens when the United States abandons its brief commitment to ending race discrimination at the polls. I spoke with Carol Anderson, a professor of African American studies at Emory University and the author of One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy.

    In this conversation, we examine the tactics Southern racists used to disenfranchise voters prior to the Voting Rights Act — and the unsettling similarities between those tactics and the methods of voter suppression that have proliferated since Shelby County.

    Podcast and edited transcript available at the link.

    Excerpt from the transcript:

    Ian Millhiser
    So, on that note, I want to read you a quote from Chief Justice Roberts that I think you’re going to recognize. He said that “things have changed in the South. Voter turnout and registration rates” — and here he means between Black and white voters — “now approach parity. Blatant discriminatory evasions of federal decrees are rare, and minority candidates hold office at unprecedented levels.”

    The chief would go on to argue that because America just isn’t as racist as it used to be, some of the voting rights measures we implemented to combat Jim Crow are no longer justified.

    So what’s wrong with the chief justice’s assessment of racism in America?

    Carol Anderson
    There were so many things wrong with his decision. One about somehow the — the diminution of racism in America, given the vitriol that the Obamas had to deal with in that time, given the rise of right-wing militias in that time, given the fact that you even had over 700 proposed changes blocked by the US Department of Justice because of racial discrimination.

    And the Voting Rights Act didn’t just pick on the South. I mean, that’s a really nice narrative. But there were bail-in and bail-out provisions. So the bail-out provisions basically said all you have to do if you’re already under the preclearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act is not act a fool. [Laughs] Right. All you had to do.

    Ian Millhiser
    What was it? It’s like 10 years that you had to just not be racist.

    Carol Anderson
    Try it, try it. You might like it. Right. So that’s all you have to do. And you could get bailed out.

    And then there were also bail-in provisions so that there were areas in California, areas in New York, areas in Arizona that were getting bailed in because they were discriminating against their population.

    Ian Millhiser
    And so bail-in means that it’s a state that wasn’t subject to preclearance. It didn’t have to get its laws approved by people in DC, but because it showed a pattern of racism, they said, guess what, guys, now you’re under preclearance as well.

    Carol Anderson
    Exactly. And so these weren’t these entire states, but they were jurisdictions within the states like counties and things like that within California, because it was really clear that something really foul and wicked, racially discriminatory was happening consistently.

  56. says

    Follow-up to tomh @46.

    From Wonkette:

    The Department of Justice announced this morning that it would be officially designating New York City, Seattle, and Portland as “anarchist jurisdictions” — a term that means absolutely nothing, but that they are claiming means the cities “have permitted violence and destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures to counteract criminal activities.”

    It would be super fun to roll our eyes at this, at how this is a really weird move for a party that is supposedly so upset about cancel culture and thinks that consumer boycotts are a violation of the First Amendment, and also how stupid Donald Trump doesn’t even know what anarchism is. But the purpose for the designation is that Trump wants to “defund” these cities. He wants to take away their federal funding. You may recall that he has tried to do this before with sanctuary cities. It’s become his go-to whenever he feels like he’s not getting his way.

    Via NBC:

    Rather than idle words, the designation has potential financial consequences. […] Trump issued a memo earlier this month directing the DOJ to identify jurisdictions that, in its view, were not enforcing the law appropriately. Designated cities could lose their federal funding.

    Trump’s order gives the director of the Office of Management and Budget 30 days to issue guidance to federal agencies on restricting eligibility for federal grants for the cities on the DOJ list. Such grants make up a huge portion of NYC’s already strapped annual budget — more than $7 billion in fiscal 2021 alone, or 7.5% of the city’s projected total revenue.

    In justifying its decision, the DOJ cited New York City’s rising gun violence, cuts to the NYPD’s budget, and moves by various district attorneys not to prosecute charges related to protests earlier this summer.

    “We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance. It is my hope that the cities identified by the Department of Justice today will reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens,” Attorney General William Barr said in a statement.

    Both the city and the state have threatened to sue the federal government over the possible DOJ classification.

    So, another fight in the courts. In the courts that the Trump administration is trying to tilt his way with conservative judges.

    Both New York and Washington are what we call “donor states,” paying more in federal taxes than they get back. Oregon isn’t, but Portland itself has a higher per capita income than the United States average, which means that the city itself may pay more into the system than it gets back. [map available at the link]

    […] Regardless of how much they pay or get, the DOJ would still be expecting that citizens of these cities pay federal taxes and get nothing back for them. It is, however, a little more galling when these areas pay in a lot more than they get already. What Trump wants is to be allowed to steal money from cities that don’t like him.

    […] if you literally just take taxes from cities you don’t like and then refuse to give them anything back for that, that is actually stealing. Given the fact that our entire government is set up to ensure that people in urban areas are given less representation than people in rural areas … that’s practically “taxation without representation.”

    When Trump was planning on taking California’s federal funding away, there was a lot of talk about the entire state refusing to pay federal taxes.

    Via CBS:

    “California could very well become an organized non-payer,” said Willie Brown, Jr, a former speaker of the state Assembly in an interview recorded Friday for KPIX 5’s Sunday morning news. “They could recommend non-compliance with the federal tax code.”

    Hypothetically, New York, Washington, and Oregon could all decide to do that. And other states could do that once their major cities get cut off. And then maybe all of those states could pool their taxes together and have their own “federal tax” that only benefits their states.

    This could be an option, but it would be a pretty sad one. It would hurt poor people in red states that don’t have anything to do with any of this. That is why we don’t just cut off states that don’t do what we want when we are in charge. This is not a game Trump should want to play, but if he does want to play it, he’s going to lose.

  57. says

    From Wonkette: Republicans Want To Hurt Us And We Are Not Obligated To Be Friends With Them

    Among the various remembrances of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been a lot of handwringing about how she and Antonin Scalia had such a lovely friendship and listened to opera together and rode elephants together and how we’re not going to have those kinds of relationships between people who are ideologically opposed to one another anymore because of how we are all so bitterly divided. [snipped examples]

    I love opera, too. I have many friends who hate it, just as I have many friends who differ from me in lots of other ways. I don’t have friends who regularly insult me or my other friends or who think we are not deserving of rights.

    I do not have friends who are cruel.

    I have friends who are kind, who are caring, who are funny and who think about how their actions affect other people. This eliminates practically all Republicans right off the bat. […] Why on earth would I want to hang out with someone who doesn’t think I am deserving of reproductive rights? Or that my trans friends shouldn’t be allowed to go to the bathroom? Or that my Black friends are lying about the existence of racism and police brutality? Or who thinks it’s fine that we’re throwing children in cages and performing forced hysterectomies on women in ICE custody?

    […] People who complain about “division” as if that’s the real problem and not, you know, the actual horrible and cruel things that Republicans believe in and want to be the law in this country, are traditionally not people with a whole lot to lose. They’re rich people. They’re white men. Or they’re Republicans who think it’s unfair that people don’t want to hang out with them […]

    These people would really like it if we could see one another’s political opinions as being as much a reflection of one’s character as their preferred sports team or taste in music or favorite color or what kind of music they like. This would make everything easier. For them.

    I, too, would love it if whoever won the next election affected my life and the lives of those I love as much as whoever won the World Series. […] That is not the case.

    But there is a very big difference between people being different and people actually just being shitty human beings. […]

    […]To be a Republican now, in this day and age, is to find things acceptable that no decent human being would find acceptable. […]

    Being friends with an asshole doesn’t make you the bigger person, it makes you the putz. It makes you someone who spends so much time appeasing the asshole that you neglect people who would actually be a good friend to you. […]

    Be friends with people who are kind to you, who respect you, and whom you don’t have to make excuses for when they are crappy to your other friends. It usually works out pretty well.

  58. says

    Mitch McConnell’s machinations are something far more degrading than hypocrisy.

    I was watching the president of the United States suggest to a mostly maskless crowd that a Democratic congresswoman had married her brother, [then] the news broke that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died. The shock of her death sledgehammered a country teetering on an ugly and desperate edge. It came in waves. It wasn’t merely the loss to the country, or the sadness that a champion of equal rights had died. Nor was it the fact that an increasingly corrupt Republican Party is very close to forcing through the judicial supermajority it needs in order to lock in minority rule and overturn American women’s right to reproductive choice. […]

    There was a flashback to the contempt and grief Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing aroused in so many appalled onlookers. And then there was the dread of realizing that a citizenry breaking—financially, politically, even cognitively—under five different kinds of instability was going to have to endure more. We have been in a bad way for a long time, but this is the hurricane on top of the wildfire that follows the earthquake.

    What’s enraging is that we shouldn’t be here. […]

    Shortly after Ginsburg’s death was announced, McConnell declared his intentions: Trump’s nominee would receive a vote in the Senate […] And anyone who took him at his word when he rejected Merrick Garland’s nomination was made a fool when he reversed himself on the question of whether (to quote the man himself) “the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.”

    […] this nation’s decline accelerates when the conventional wisdom becomes that believing what the Senate Majority Leader says is self-evidently foolish. The chestnut that politicians always lie is overstated—a society depends on some degree of mutual trust. One party has embraced nihilism, pilloried trust, and turned good faith into a sucker’s failing in a sucker’s game.

    […] Folks who at one point gave Republican declarations of principle the benefit of the doubt (I include myself) feel like chumps now. Conversely, the cynical prognosticators who used to seem crabbed and paranoid just keep getting proven right. Whatever the worst thing you imagine McConnell doing might be, he can usually trump it.

    […] A former White House official told the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer for a piece in April that McConnell reassured donors that he would install a Supreme Court justice for Trump regardless of how close to the election Ginsburg’s death might be. […]

    I am not saying anything new here. But what I am interested in, because I think it must be understood, and because the stakes of it have never been higher, is what McConnellizing does, affectively, to so many American citizens. […] We are overdue for a real reckoning with what it means to be degraded by our own leadership. […]

    Here is the justification McConnell offered shortly after Ginsburg died for violating his own rule:

    In the last midterm election before Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, Americans elected a Republican Senate majority because we pledged to check and balance the last days of a lame-duck president’s second term. We kept our promise. Since the 1880s, no Senate has confirmed an opposite-party president’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year.

    This last sentence […] is a lie. […] this tortured reasoning McConnell supplied is horseshit. You are already meant to understand it as horseshit. […]

    OK, now for the dull facts: What McConnell says in that statement is not true. In 1988 (an election year!), the Democratically controlled Senate confirmed Anthony Kennedy—President Ronald Reagan’s nominee to the Supreme Court. […]

    I think we have a habit of misnaming political experiences in ways that help us metabolize loss. I think, for example, that we have a bad habit of calling McConnell’s double standard—which will be devastating to a country already struggling through various legitimacy crises—“hypocrisy.” […] hypocrisy isn’t the word for what this is. Hypocrisy is a mild failing. It applies to parents smoking when they advise their kids not to for their own good; it does not apply to parents lighting the family home on fire for the insurance money while high-fiving each other over how stupid their fleeing children were for thinking anything they told them was true.

    […] It will not help to call the leadership we have right now hypocrites; they will not care […] Fully witnessing and registering insults and degradation is more painful than sneering that you aren’t surprised. But I’ll be blunt: People are more willing to fight people who insult and degrade them than they are to fight mere “hypocrites.”

    […] I had no personal feelings about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing; my admiration and gratitude were purely professional and civic. But I found this quote—a response to Irin Carmon asking her how she’d like to be remembered—deeply moving: “Someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability. And to help repair tears in her society, to make things a little better through the use of whatever ability she has.”


  59. says

    Why it matters that Trump is ‘running against the election itself’

    Trump wants to say he won before the votes are counted, and he expects Republican-approved judges to help deliver a victory, whether he’s earned it or not.

    […] “So what’s going to happen on November 3rd when somebody is leading and they say, ‘Well, look, we haven’t counted the ballots; we have millions of ballots to count’? It’s a disaster. Everyone knows it. Everyone knows it’s a disaster…. Where are these ballots going? Who’s sending them? Who’s signing them?” [Trump said.]

    As it turns out, the rhetorical questions he asked are actually very easy to answer. What’s going to happen on Nov. 3 when there are millions of ballots to count? Well, at that point, election officials will count the ballots and announce the results.

    Where are these ballots going? It varies by state, but they’re either going to all registered voters, or to registered voters who requested them.

    Who’s sending them? Local election officials.

    Who’s signing them? The voters casting ballots.

    Election procedures can get complex, but the questions [Trump] finds baffling are incredibly basic. Worse, what he describes as some kind of self-evident “disaster” is actually a routine electoral process.

    […] Trump isn’t simply asking dumb questions with obvious answers; he’s also laying the groundwork for the near future. Indeed, the subtext is hardly subtle: [Trump] specifically emphasized that “somebody” will be leading on Election Day — an advantage that will obviously be misleading — as if those preliminary results will have great significance.

    [Trump] may very well declare victory based on an incomplete tally, ramp up efforts to delegitimize ballots cast by mail, and then scramble to stop the count in as many places as possible.

    [Trump] has effectively described this plan in public, telling supporters at North Carolina rally over the weekend that he expects an increasingly conservative judiciary to help him hold power.

    “We’re going to have a victory on November 3rd the likes of which you’ve never seen,” Trump boasted to his followers. “Now, we’re counting on the federal court system to make it so that we can actually have an evening where we know who wins. Not where the votes are going to be counted a week later or two weeks later.” […]

  60. says

    A new engineering report says many sections of Trump’s border wall are “in danger of overturning.”

    We’ve heard this before. Now there is more news about this impending fall of the wall.

    Steve Bannon is now being charged for conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering. He’s being charged along with three others connected to “We Build the Wall,” an organization that took in tens of millions of dollars of Americans’ donations in order to help build the border wall between the United States and Mexico that Donald Trump campaigned on. […]

    one of two new studies, soon to be entered into federal court, enumerate the many “deficiencies in the 3-mile border fence, built this year by North Dakota-based Fisher Sand and Gravel.” The 3 miles of border wall will fall down at some point because it isn’t engineered well. […]

    Alex Mayer, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Texas at El Paso, told ProPublica that the engineering studies show that the wall construction has been beset with cost-cutting and corner-cutting moves.[…]

    Scam artists fundamentally do not care about anyone but themselves. It’s a sociopathic trade by nature and whether they are hoping that their scam won’t be found out right away or not, the results are always the same—you get left holding the bag. The Trump administration and people like Steve Bannon are fighting to retain power because without it, the gig is up.

    Trump has tried to distance himself from the We Build the Wall crew but facts keep getting in the way. Not only did the group make constant claims to having the president’s blessing, Trump’s own campaign staff seem to have made lots of money off the alleged money laundering scheme.


  61. says

    Good news: young voters are backing Biden by a two-to-one margin.

    Young voters back Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden over President Trump by a two-to-one margin less than two months out from Election Day, according to a new survey from the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics.

    The poll, released on Monday, found that 60 percent of likely voters under the age of 30 said they will back Biden in November, while 27 percent said the same for Trump. Biden also fares better with young voters than 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton did at this point in the race. In a survey shortly before the election, 49 percent of young people said they supported Clinton. […]


    Young voters backing Trump still register higher on the “enthusiasm” scale, with 44% of Trump’s supporters saying they were enthusiastic; while 30% of Biden’s young supporters said the same.

  62. says

    This sounds like a good idea: The District of Columbia is investing $4 million to help small businesses winterize outdoor dining areas.

    […] The program will provide grant recipients $6,000 to assist with winterizing outdoor dining spaces. The funds can be used for items including tents, heaters, propane, lighting and furniture, according to the mayor’s office. […]


  63. tomh says

    Nationwide Injunction Issued to Shield Mail-In Votes During Pandemic
    September 21, 2020 JOSH RUSSELL

    MANHATTAN (CN) — Finding that multiple managerial failures under the Trump administration have undermined the mission of the U.S. Postal Service, a federal judge ordered the agency on Monday to preapprove all overtime for the upcoming election and to prioritize all ballot-related mail.

    “They have not provided trusted assurance and comfort that citizens will be able to cast ballots with full confidence that their votes would be timely collected and counted,” the 87-page opinion states. “Rather, as detailed below, their actions have given rise to management and operational confusion, to directives that tend to generate uncertainty as to who is in charge of policies that ultimately could affect the reliability of absentee ballots, thus potentially discouraging voting by mail.”…

    Several candidates for office and New York voters brought the underlying suit last month, responding to controversial cost-cutting changes to the U.S. Postal Service put in place by the newly installed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

    The only postmaster general in two decades to lack experience in the Postal Service, DeJoy cited budget reform in banning extra mail deliveries while also unveiling sweeping cuts to overtime and ordering a freeze on executive hiring. President Donald Trump meanwhile has bragged that “universal mail-in voting” would be impossible without the funding measures his administration is stonewalling…

    Judge Marrero’s order says the parties have until noon Friday to reach a settlement to make sure that mail-in ballots are properly handled…

    If both sides fail to arrive at an order by the end of the week, Marrero said he will impose his own injunction that ensures postal trucks can make late and extra trips, and that postal workers get overtime preapproved from late October through early November.

    The judge also said he would mandate the Postal Service to treat all election mail — including voter registration materials, absentee or mail-in ballot applications, polling place notifications, blank ballots, and completed ballots — as first-class mail or priority mail express.

    Furthermore the USPS must file weekly reports to keep the public apprised of its progress in meeting appropriate benchmarks, and issue appropriate guidance on the national level…

    Spokespersons for the Department of Justice, who served as counsel for the government and Postal Service, declined to comment on the ruling Monday morning.

  64. says

    From Dhruv Khullar, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] In less than a year, covid-19 has killed four times as many Americans as died from the opioid crisis during its deadliest year. It has killed more Americans than those who perished in every armed conflict combined since the Second World War. Globally, it has killed nearly a million people. […]

    Moments of national tragedy are usually met with elevating Presidential rhetoric. […] Three days after the September 11th attacks, in a speech at Ground Zero, George W. Bush told the nation, “I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.” Later, at a prayer service, Bush said that “grief and tragedy and hatred are only for a time. But goodness, remembrance, and love have no end.” After President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon B. Johnson called on the country to “put an end to the teaching and the preaching of hate and evil and violence”; he urged Americans to turn away from “the apostles of bitterness and bigotry.”

    No such messages will be coming from this President. Donald Trump has abdicated both managerial and moral leadership. (“I don’t take responsibility at all,” he has said, and, “It is what it is.”) Instead of helping the nation heal, he uses his bully pulpit to sow confusion, division, and distrust. He freely admits to misleading the public about the lethality of the virus; he disrupts the efforts of public-health agencies, tarring them with his own brand of partisanship and misinformation; he argues that talk of the virus is designed to damage his reëlection prospects. Meanwhile, his surrogates describe the pandemic, which sickens or kills thousands more Americans each day, in the past tense.

    There are those, including the President, who question the veracity of the U.S. coronavirus death estimates. That skepticism doesn’t cohere with reality. Across the United States, excess mortality—the difference in the total number of deaths, from any cause, compared with a historical average—far exceeds official tallies of covid-19 fatalities. In all likelihood, there are more, not fewer, covid-19 deaths than we have confirmed. And the pandemic, in addition to devastating the economy, has caused enormous collateral health damage. […]

    In the United States, peaks of panic have given way to plateaus of resignation. The country continues to record tens of thousands of new coronavirus cases each day but remains without a coherent plan to alter that trajectory. Because we never truly subdued the virus, we’re experiencing our newest waves on rising seas. In May, after strict lockdowns, the number of newly diagnosed cases levelled off at around twenty thousand per day. But September’s number is closer to forty thousand. We’re performing more tests, and that helps explain the higher number of new confirmed cases. But it’s also true that the virus is circulating in more places than before. […]

    We’ve settled, instead, into a grinding battle, in which lives are lost incrementally but no less tragically. Six thousand dead in Georgia; two thousand in Minnesota; fifteen hundred in Nevada. It’s these small yet significant numbers, adding up month after month, that have gotten us to two hundred thousand.

    […]. How does one reconcile the deaths of two hundred thousand people—a fifth of all the covid-19 deaths in the world—with the idea of an exceptional America, a compassionate America, a scientifically advanced America? The most piercing question has come to be whether we live in a just America. Inequalities in income, housing, employment, and medical care have resulted in Black and brown Americans dying of covid-19 at higher rates than whites. The pandemic has especially hurt low-income Americans, many of whom are now out of work, but Congress remains locked in a stalemate over whether and how to deliver relief. Meanwhile, in some states, more than half of all covid-19 deaths are linked to nursing homes, where many older Americans have died without being able to say goodbye to their loved ones. We tolerate these deaths because of a communal ageism. Our inability to protect the most vulnerable Americans has become both a public-health failure and a moral stain. […]

    Much more at the link.

  65. tomh says

    Judge extends deadline for Wisconsin ballots postmarked by Election Day
    Fadel Allassan

    A federal judge in Wisconsin on Monday extended the state’s deadline for counting absentee ballots until up to six days after the Nov. 3 election if they are postmarked by Election Day, AP reports.

    The ruling, unless overturned, “means that the outcome of the presidential race in Wisconsin likely will not be known for days after polls close,” according to AP.

    District Judge William Conley, an Obama appointee, also extended the Oct. 14 deadline for mail-in voting and electronic voter registration until Oct. 21.

    Judges in four presidential swing states — Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and now Wisconsin — have ruled that ballots can be counted if they are postmarked by Nov. 2 (or Nov. 3 in Michigan).

    Republicans will do everything possible to get this ruling overturned.

  66. John Morales says

    Lynna @63, “heaters, propane” for the outdoors a good idea? Really?

    (Better than coal-burners, I suppose — only around 60% of the CO2 emission)

  67. tomh says

    Trump Campaign Bid to Stop Nevada Mail-In Voting Expansion Rejected by Judge
    September 21, 2020 MARTIN MACIAS JR

    (CN) — In a blow to the Trump campaign in a key battleground state, a federal judge rejected a bid to shoot down Nevada’s plan to expand mail-in voting during the state of emergency caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

    Under a bill approved by the Nevada Legislature in August, all active voters will receive a mail-in ballot for the November general election. The measure establishes a minimum number of in-person voting locations and also provides additional time after Election Day for counties to receive mail ballots.

    A day after the bill passed in a special session, the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and the Nevada Republican Party filed a federal lawsuit challenging provisions of the bill they argued would lead to widespread voter fraud.

    The campaign said in court papers Nevada’s mail-in voting plan would strip the election process of safeguards against voter fraud and unnecessarily complicate the timeline for counting votes.

    Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske moved to dismiss the lawsuit for lack of standing, arguing the campaign had no direct organizational or associational standing to represent voters’ interests.

    U.S. District Judge James C. Mahan agreed, writing in a Sep. 18 ruling that the Trump campaign represents only the president and his political goals.

    “The Trump campaign does not represent Nevada voters,” Mahan wrote in his 12-page order, which was made available to the public Monday. “Although the Trump campaign may achieve its ‘organization’s purpose’ through Nevada voters, the individual constitutional interests of those voters are wholly distinct.”

    Mahan also rejected the Trump campaign’s argument that its supporters would be harmed by voter fraud that it claims has occurred in other states.

    “Even if accepted as true, plaintiffs’ pleadings allude to vote dilution that is impermissibly generalized,” Mahan wrote.

    Attorneys for the campaign have 30 days to appeal the decision.

    … in a tweet, Governor Steve Sisolak said he was pleased with the ruling.

    “I’m pleased to see a federal court judge has dismissed a lawsuit seeking to block AB4, a measure passed to expand options for Nevadans and provide for safe, fair & accessible elections during the pandemic,” the Democrat said.

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