Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington showed up on Meet the Press this week along with Lindsey Graham. The topic choice was obvious since it’s nearly the only thing anyone is talking about this weekend. How will the Democrats stop President Trump from nominating another conservative justice to the Supreme Court and what will it mean for the future of progressivism if they can’t? We’ve already seen a number of “strategies” being put forth, none of which sound as if they can actually work, so Cantwell is taking a more direct approach. She basically told Chuck Todd that the message is, “nice Senate career you’ve got there. Be a real shame if anything happened to it.” (NBC News)
Here’s the video of the brief interview via the Senator’s YouTube channel.
As Democrats look for ways to slow down President Donald Trump’s pick to fill a vacant seat on the Supreme Court, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., warned her colleagues on both sides of the aisle that the upcoming confirmation vote could be “career-ending” if it leads to the overturning of Roe v. Wade and other major precedents.
“My colleagues on both sides of the aisle know that this vote could be one of the key votes of their entire career,” Cantwell said in an exclusive interview on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd Sunday. “If they vote for somebody who’s going to change precedent, it could be a career-ending move.”
Trump has the chance to change the trajectory of the court after Justice Anthony Kennedy, the perennial swing vote, announced his retirement last week. During the 2016 campaign, Trump has said he would appoint nominees who would overturn Roe v. Wade.
With little recourse to stop Republicans or even slow the process, Democrats are hoping to pressure pro-abortion rights Republicans like Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, to vote against any nominee that would threaten Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion ruling.
I’m not a huge fan of stare decisis and don’t feel that anything is written in stone over the long run, but how much of this is fearmongering and how much should be viewed as a valid concern by liberal politicians? While it’s disingenuous to base a decision on approving a new justice solely on a single issue, that’s pretty much the fight we’re going to have this summer for the bazillionth time. And we should recognize that Roe v. Wade isn’t exactly sitting on a bedrock foundation so the fears of abortion supporters can’t simply be dismissed as kookery here.
Back in 1992, when the court heard Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the court was on the verge of writing a 5-4 decision overturning the decision in Roe. Four conservative justices were set to go, consisting of Rehnquist, White, Scalia and Thomas. They had Kennedy on their side but he jumped ship at the last moment.
Also, as CNN recently pointed out, there are at least a half-dozen cases scattered across multiple states right now which deal with laws imposing significant restrictions on abortions. None of them would necessarily result in a complete overturning of Roe if they were approved by the next Supreme Court, but they could definitely open the door to weakening it.
The question here is whether or not Cantwell’s threat has any muscle behind it. If you’re a Democrat in a relatively blue state then sure… you can probably kiss your seat goodbye if you vote to confirm a real conservative as a replacement for Kennedy. But in some of the more purple to red states, Democrats only manage to get elected if they swing past the center on pro-life issues. I’m thinking of Heidi Heitkamp for just one example. She’s in a fight for her political life right now and do you really think her voters are going to pillory her over voting for Trump’s nominee?
The opposite is true of the moderate Republicans. Will Susan Collins lose her seat for voting for Trump’s nominee? She’s made it fairly clear that she won’t vote for a nominee who comes out and flatly indicates that they’re just waiting to overturn Roe, but what nominee in their right mind is going to do that? For more than 90% of the Senate, Cantwell’s threat is meaningless. Almost all of those votes are baked into the cake already and nobody is going to lose their job over the issue. Once again we’re seeing the Democrats trying to rally the base for the midterms, but the odds of it having any impact on the confirmation of the next associate justice seem to be somewhere between slim and none. And I think slim just left town.