Friday, November 24, 2017

Trump's Really Packing Them In

If you want to know why Republicans "deeply concerned" with Trump continue to do nothing about him, it's because he's giving them what they want: permanent control of the American government for a generation.  Having gerrymandered state legislatures and the House into oblivion and stolen Merrick Garland's Supreme Court seat, the only remaining task is to stuff the federal courts full of  hundreds of jurists in the mold of current SCOTUS conservatives, seats the Mitch McConnell blocked for years under Obama.  And frankly, there may be nothing that Democrats can do to stop it.

Conservatives have a new court-packing plan, and in the spirit of the holiday, it’s a turducken of a scheme: a regulatory rollback hidden inside a civil rights reversal stuffed into a Trumpification of the courts. If conservatives get their way, President Trump will add twice as many lifetime members to the federal judiciary in the next 12 months (650) as Barack Obama named in eight years (325). American law will never be the same.

The “outer turkey” in the plan is the ongoing Trumpification of the courts. In the final two years of Obama’s presidency, Senate Republicans engaged in tenacious obstruction to leave as many judicial vacancies unfilled as possible. The Garland-to-Gorsuch Supreme Court switch is the most visible example of this tactic but far from the only one: Due to GOP obstruction, “the number of [judicial] vacancies . . . on the table when [Trump] was sworn in was unprecedented,” White House Counsel Donald McGahn recently boasted to the conservative Federalist Society.

Trump is wasting no time in filling the 103 judicial vacancies he inherited. In the first nine months of Obama’s tenure, he nominated 20 judges to the federal trial and appellate courts; in Trump’s first nine months, he named 58. Senate Republicans are racing these nominees through confirmation; last week, breaking a 100-year-old tradition, they eliminated the “blue slip” rule that allowed home-state senators to object to particularly problematic nominees. The rush to Trumpify the judiciary includes nominees rated unqualified by the American Bar Association, nominees with outrageously conservative views and nominees significantly younger (and, therefore, likely to serve longer) than those of previous presidents. As a result, by sometime next year, 1 in 8 cases filed in federal court will be heard by a judge picked by Trump. Many of these judges will likely still be serving in 2050.

Oh, but it gets worse.

Enter the next element of the court-packing turducken: a new plan written by the crafty co-founder of the Federalist Society, Steven Calabresi. In a paper that deserves credit for its transparency (it features a section titled “Undoing President Barack Obama’s Judicial Legacy”), Calabresi proposes to pack the federal courts with a “minimum” of 260 — and possibly as many as 447 — newly created judicial positions. Under this plan, the 228-year-old federal judiciary would increase — in a single year — by 30 to 50 percent.

Never mind that Republicans saw no urgency in filling judicial vacancies while Obama was president. Never mind that they ignored pleas from conservative Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to fill positions in courts facing “judicial emergencies.” Now, conservatives want a 30 to 50 percent increase in the number of federal judgeships. And they have a clear idea of who should fill this massive number of new posts: “President Trump and the Republican Senate will need to fill all of these new judgeships in 2018, before the next session of Congress. 

And believe it or not, it gets even worse.

Calabresi has also proposed that Congress abolish 158 administrative law judgeships in federal regulatory agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Securities and Exchange Commission, and replace these impartial fact-finders with a new corps of 158 Trump-selected judges who — unlike current administrative law judges — would serve for life.

These new Trump administrative law judges would have vast power over environmental, health and safety, fair competition, communications, labor, financial and consumer regulation for decades. Unlike the existing administrative law judges, selected as nonpartisan members of the civil service, Calabresi’s replacement corps would all be picked in a single year, by a single man: Donald J. Trump.

If this sounds like the beginning of a permanent single-party autocracy, that's because it is.  Even the best-case scenario out of this would be a rollback of a century of progressive values, and the end of the civil rights era.  In short, even if it's not a "Trump dynasty for life" dictatorship, it'll still be a complete and total victory for the GOP.

Keep in mind this process has already started.  Trump judges are being appointed and confirmed in assembly line fashion.  Even if Trump is somehow removed from office, the GOP gets 99% of what they will want from him, and they will have the power to crush progressives for a lifetime.

Good thing we didn't elect that Hillary bitch though, right?

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