Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Sen. Udall's Balancing Act

New Mexico Dem Sen. Tom Udall has an...interesting...plan for solving the Supreme Court issue: talk a current justice into retiring, leaving seven on the high court, then confirming both Neil Gorsuch and Obama nominee Merrick Garland at the same time.

Sen. Tom Udall has an idea that could place both Judge Neil Gorsuch and Judge Merrick Garland on the Supreme Court at the same time. 
The Democrat from New Mexico presented the plan Monday morning to Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, as well as to Gorsuch's team of White House aides and former Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who's been attending Gorsuch's meetings with senators. 
His proposal is for Trump to meet privately with Supreme Court justices who are interested in retirement. If one of those justices decided they would be willing to retire, and if Trump promises to nominate Garland, President Barack Obama's unconfirmed former SCOTUS pick, in their place, then the retiring justice would submit a letter of resignation contingent on that promise. 
Then, both Garland and Gorsuch would be voted on simultaneously. 
It's a far-fetched idea, and Udall told reporters he got no response or comment from Gorsuch's team in the room. But he added that he's been talking to other senators about it. 
A spokesman from Gorsuch's team did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

If this sounds familiar, that's because we've seen this before, just not in this administration.

The idea closely follows a plot line from an episode of "The West Wing" television show. In season 5, episode 17, "The Supremes," a spot on the Supreme Court opens up and the White House works out a deal with another justice to retire so they can replace him with both a liberal justice while Republicans can get their pick of a more conservative justice. 
Jennifer Talhelm, communications director for Udall, told CNN that the senator did not get the idea from the West Wing, and that while he has maybe seen an episode or two, he doesn't watch the show. 
She said Udall has wanted to see Trump pick Garland all along, and his more recent idea came after he was speaking with a constituent who said they'd like to see both Garland and Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. 
Speaking to reporters, Udall also recalled the time that President Lyndon B. Johnson wanted his adviser Abe Fortas on the Supreme Court, so he persuaded Justice Arthur Goldberg to retire by promising him the position of ambassador to the United Nations. 
So what would be Trump's motivation to move ahead with this idea? 
"It's a good chance for Trump to try to unite the country," Udall said.

I can see the draw, but Republicans aren't about to go for this.  They know that Gorsuch will get confirmed, and there's an extremely good chance that either Justice Ginsburg, Breyer, or Kennedy will retire by 2020, giving Trump a second pick to tilt the court to a 6-3 conservative bent that would end legalized abortion, affirmative action, and maybe even same-sex marriage.  It would certainly continue the Roberts Court path of rolling back the New Deal and Great Society.

Udall makes a good pitch, and it's as good as it's going to get for Democrats.  But Republicans don't want to unite the country, they want to dominate it, and leave liberals and liberalism broken, bleeding, and crushed on the floor, without rights, without power, and without hope.

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