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Whew! We’re back. For those of you who have been wondering where this newsletter went — we’re still writing blogs and releasing podcasts daily on StarSpangledGamblers.com. But to write this cover letter, we’ve brought in a ringer… A veteran journalist in cognito. Her real name… you will NEVER know.
But her SSG name is… Dragon Poopsie. Let’s welcome here to the SSG family!
SUPREME COURT STATE OF PLAY
by Dragon Poopsie
The last week has been mostly about the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Yes, the Dems have been beating the drum about COVID and what a terrible job President Trump has done. And yes, the city of Louisville is on the brink of exploding because a Grand Jury declined to charge any police officers with homicide in the killing of Breonna Taylor.
But mostly, the political world is preoccupied with the death of RBG and her vacant Supreme Court seat. There’s a lot of theater going on around these issues, and RBG herself started the drama when she spoke her last words: “My fervent wish,” she apparently said, “is that I not be replaced until a new President is installed.” Of course that would be her fervent wish. She couldn’t stand Donald Trump and had to apologize publicly for saying so. She lived for nine years with pancreatic cancer, which is almost unheard of, and many people believe her desire to outlast the GOP kept her going a lot of that time.
So, yes, it was always certain Trump would name a nominee. And, yes, the Senate Republicans will vote to confirm that nominee as quickly as they can. And anyone who thinks the Democrats wouldn’t do the very same thing if they had the opportunity is naïve or an idiot, despite the good show Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is putting on, looking as if he’s so shocked he needs a fainting couch.
Animals, politics is about amassing power. Expecting the President and Senate majority to pass up the chance to make this Supreme Court pick would be as stupid as me expecting my dog to pass up a chance to eat a bag of hamburgers sitting on the kitchen counter. It’s against their nature.
Now, for bettors, the question is: who will Trump nominate, when will Mitch McConnell call a vote, and will it pass?
Zoltar is confident that Trump will pick Barbara Lagoa, and Lagoa would be a logical choice: She’s Cuban-American (Trump needs more Hispanic support). She lives in Florida (a state he needs to win). And she has been on the federal bench for only a year (which means her paper trail is short, and her FBI background check is current).
But Trump said on Wednesday he hadn’t interviewed Lagoa and didn’t have a meeting scheduled. He also mentioned the person he was going to pick had impeccable academic credentials. So the nominee may be the favorite, Amy Coney Barrett, who he met with earlier this week—if you consider Notre Dame to be “impeccable “on a bench that frowns on the University of Chicago.
The confirmation process will be uglier if Barrett is the choice – “The dogma lives loudly in you,” Dianne Feinstein famously said during Barrett’s 2017 nomination hearing for a federal circuit court seat. But since when did Trump or McConnell run from a fight? With this move to nominate and confirm, they’re baiting the Democrats. They‘re daring them to behave as badly as they did in the Kavanaugh hearings, daring them to argue that religious faith is a bad quality for a judge. An additional plus Barrett would bring the GOP is that she’d probably live out her time on the Court as a reliable conservative vote, unlike a number of conservative Justices who moved leftish, or even left, over time. The last thing Trump or McConnell will want is to take a chance on an unknown who might turn into another David Souter.
The plan will be to move fast so the confirmation vote can be taken before election day. Letting it drag on until after would be dangerous. If the President or Republican Senate majority loses, it would be hard to sell the public on the legitimacy of a lame duck vote. In that case, even Republican senators would defect to preserve any semblance of decency.
The Senate vote so far looks like 51 in favor of confirmation, 49 against, with two Republicans, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, voting no with the Democrats. Mitt Romney, Corey Gardner and Chuck Grassley, who were at first worrisome to GOP vote counters, have all said they’re on board. Meanwhile, the Democrats, even ones from conservative states who usually would be risking the wrath of their constituents if they opposed a conservative nominee, are off the hook this time: They can say the rushed process was unacceptable, then run off to the fainting couch themselves. On the other hand, if the hearings get crazy and the nominee is under sustained ideological attack, process will diminish in importance, and those vulnerable Democrat senators might have to decide which tough vote to take.
Here’s the reality: The choice was for Trump and the Republicans to leave the appointment up to the next President and Senate, which polls suggest won’t be them. Or to install another conservative Justice and strengthen the conservative majority on the Court for decades to come. That’s an easy choice for a group whose purpose is to amass power.
That doesn’t mean the voters will support their decision. Another truth about politicians is that they eventually overreach. The suburban voters the GOP desperately needs may decide this quicky-confirmation is too unseemly. They may flip to the Ds in some close Senate races. On the other hand, if the Democrats’ response is anything like what voters saw during the Kavanaugh hearings, they may end up overreaching, too.