In the age of Bernie Sanders, the rich are to blame for everything. According to Senator Elizabeth Warren, they’re the reason there are currently eight Supreme Court justices.
In a speech during an American Constitution Society Convention, Warren excoriated Donald Trump for his comments on Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s Mexican heritage, which not only “shows racism as his weapon” but also his drive to preserve his power and wealth, she said. Judge Curiel is presiding over ongoing litigation involving Trump University.
But Trump is just exposing all Republican officeholders as the obstructionist plutocrats that they are, Warren explained: “[Trump’s] aim is exactly the same as the rest of the Republicans.”
She believes Republican senators are blocking President Obama’s Supreme Court appointee Merrick Garland because they want to “pound the courts into submission for the rich and powerful.”
So, all this time we thought the Senate was exercising its constitutional prerogative to advise and consent on the president’s appointee, it was actually colluding with big businesses and the Donald Trumps of the country to protect moneyed interests. Does anyone buy this line of argument?
Progressives will huff and puff about how Republican obstruction of judicial appointees politicizes a branch that was supposed to be nonpartisan. But we know that were, say, Ted Cruz the current appointee, they would concede that a judge’s ideology matters a great deal, and would do everything in their power to prevent his confirmation.
Near the end of her speech, Warren took aim at Mitch McConnell’s statement that he had faith in the ability of the country’s Constitution and institutions to check a President Trump. On the contrary, said Warren, “all that is required for the rule of law and for our independent judiciary to collapse is for good people to stand by and do nothing.” Though she was probably going for a dramatic effect, she seems to have it exactly backwards. We need the rule of law and an independent judiciary because there aren’t enough good people — including in Congress and in the judiciary — to ensure justice without these institutional checks.
One such check is the Senate’s power to advise and consent, in this case to increase the chance that the eventual appointee will interpret the text of the Constitution rather than advancing progressive goals when the legislature does not.