On Oct. 6 the Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in a 50-48 vote, according to CNN.
This vote came in the wake of several allegations against Kavanaugh of sexual assault. According to Slate, Christine Blasey Ford stated during a Senate hearing that Kavanaugh isolated her at a party when they were in high school, put his hand over her mouth and tried to take her clothes off. She said that she feared for her life and believed that he would rape her. However, Kavanaugh’s friend jumped on top of them giving her a chance to escape.
In another case, Deborah Ramirez claimed that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her during a party at Yale, according to Fox News. In an interview on Fox News Kavanaugh defended himself from these allegations stating that he never sexually assaulted anyone.
Despite these allegations, and even though Kavanaugh likely lied under oath several times when questioned about his drunkenness and use of slang, the Senate confirmed him anyway. This is because the Supreme Court is a political tool.
The Court is a partisan, undemocratic institution that can strike down laws passed by Congress, and it is confirmed by another unrepresentative institution, the Senate. Kavanaugh was appointed by President Trump, who lost the popular vote, and approved by the Senate, receiving 50 votes to confirm from Senators that represented just 44% of the country. In addition to Kavanaugh, Trump’s other appointee, Neil Gorsuch, took a seat that opened under President Obama and should have been filled by Obama’s appointee, Merrick Garland.
Now Trump has gotten two Supreme Court picks in the first half of his first term, and we have seen the effects of this already.
On Oct. 22 the Supreme Court ruled that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross did not have to testify about his motives for changing the United States Census to add a question asking if the respondent was a citizen, according to USA Today.
Ross previously stated that the new question, taken off of the Census in 1950, is to uphold the Voting Rights Act; however, new evidence has emerged that Ross made the decision first and then asked for a legal reason to add it.
The Census is a count of all residents of the U.S., not just citizens, and Democratic States’ Attorneys have argued that this citizenship question is a crude attempt to intimidate undocumented immigrants, according to USA Today.
The court is also retrograde on environmental issues. Even after the IPCC’s bombshell climate change report released on Oct. 8, which stated the dire consequences of our continued carbon emissions, Trump’s court is dead set on turning the Earth into an inferno.
Vox reported that on Oct. 18 the Court put a hold on a landmark climate change case which passed through several lower courts. The case has 21 plaintiffs between the ages of 11 and 22, and their lawyers argue that the government has exacerbated climate change and is causing “irreparable harm to young people and denying them a safe climate.” It is unusual for the Supreme Court to intervene in lower courts so blatantly. However, the justices have to uphold their ideological commitments.
Trump and the Republicans know that the Court is their political tool. The Washington Post reports that the Trump administration has brought an unprecedented number of cases, most notably the Muslim ban, directly before the Supreme Court, bypassing lower courts. The Court’s role as a rubber stamp is also why Jeff Sessions threatened a federal appeals court that if it does not decide the DACA case by the end of the month, the administration will go directly before the Supreme Court.
So considering that at least two members of the Supreme Court are illegitimate and will remain there for decades, and that the Court will continue to make retrograde decisions that will send us on an irreversible course towards climate disaster, what recourse do we have?
The first step if Democrats take back the House or the Senate in November should be to open an official inquiry into Kavanaugh to determine if he was lying under oath during his confirmation hearing in order to impeach him.
The second step if a Democrat wins the Presidency in 2020 should be to thank Justices Ginsburg and Breyer for their holding action through the Trump years and promptly ask them to resign to make room for younger justices.
The third step, if the Supreme Court is still majority Republican, is to add two more seats to the Supreme Court to re-establish a liberal majority. This is the least likely suggestion to get implemented; however, it would not require a constitutional amendment since the Constitution does not specify how many justices the court should have.
Ideally, the Supreme Court would not exist or would have less power, but without a constitutional amendment, these suggestions are the best way to recapture the Supreme Court. Some may ask, isn’t this a massive escalation? It is an escalation, but if the Republicans are going to play dirty, why shouldn’t we?