On today's BradCast: I suspect you know what we'll be covering. [Audio link to show follows below.]
But, briefly today, before we get to the titanic battle over what may happen in the next 43 days before Election Day, we begin with a few words of warning from Desi Doyen on the latest incoming Hurricanes/Tropical Storms. In the most immediate case, Tropical Storm Beta (so named because we've run out of alphabetical names in this record, climate change-fueled storm season), is set to make landfall near flood-prone Houston on Monday night before a very slow and dangerously wet roll up the Gulf Coast toward New Orleans.
But every tragedy and disaster steps on another one these days (even as our COVID-19 disaster has now resulted in at least 200,000 Americans dead, and a Trump Administration that has politicized the CDC so much that once world-respected federal agency removed its warning that the coronavirus is airborne from its website today, with little explanation.) Despite all of that, we are forced to move in short order to the story of the day --- and perhaps of the next 43 days or more --- the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg from metastatic pancreatic cancer, as announced on Friday evening.
We discuss her extraordinary historic legacy both on the Court and before she became a federal jurist 40 years ago, all too briefly today, as the fight over filling her vacant seat began within seconds of her death being announced late last week. Nearly as quickly, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to hold a vote in the Senate on Donald Trump's nominee this year --- either before or after Election Day --- despite spending a full year in 2016 disingenuously claiming that "the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice" after Justice Antonin Scalia's death in February of 2016. Back then, Obama nominated centrist jurist Merrick Garland a full 237 days before the Presidential election, while McConnell --- holding fast to his dishonest line that the "vacancy should not filled until we have a new President" --- refused to even hold a hearing on the nomination, much less an up or down vote on the Senate floor.
But now, in this case, following the death of a Democratic appointee with a Republican now in the White House, just 46 days before the 2020 Presidential election, McConnell and most of his Republican caucus in the Senate appear ready to move ahead with their rank hypocrisy at lightning speed. That includes Sen. Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham, who repeatedly said over the years since 2016 that he would never support seating a new SCOTUS Justice during a Presidential year --- and that we should remember his comments and hold him to them, if the need ever arises. Nonetheless, with the death of RBG on Friday, the unmatched world-class hypocrite Graham declared the very next day, on Saturday, that he would indeed "support" Donald Trump "in any effort to move forward regarding the recent vacancy created by the passing of Justice Ginsburg."
It appears it will now be up to the voters of South Carolina to hold Graham accountable. According to the latest polling in the state, he is said to be tied in a tough re-election challenge this year against Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Jaime Harrison.
So far, just two Republican Senators have gone on record to say they would not support a vote to replace Ginsburg before this year's election (does that mean they'd support it afterward, even if Biden wins? Unknown at the moment.) Those two are Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine. Collins is also facing a tough reelection battle in her own home state this year against Democrat Sara Gideon. While there are boatloads of Republican Senators who previously vowed they'd not support the seating of a new Justice in 2020, it remains to be seen which, if any, will be able to avoid an appalling, Lindsey Graham-like flip-flop. As of now, just two more Republican Senators would have to dig deep enough to find the courage and intellectual honesty to do the right thing in order to stop any appointment until after the next President is determined by the American people.
There are a number of other possible factors that may come in to play in the days ahead. For example, the potential election of Democratic nominee Mark Kelly over Sen. Martha McSally in Arizona on November 3rd, in what is actually a Special Election in that contest, could result in Kelly's seating in November, instead of January with the new Congress. If that came to pass, it could mean that just one more Republican vote could stop this charade. There is also the possibility that Democrats could file another impeachment (or two) in the U.S. House to force a trial in the Senate to slow down the nomination battle over whoever Trump nominates to fill RBG's seat.
And, of course, no matter what happens, Democrats need to begin making plans to expand the number of seats on the stolen U.S. Supreme Court NO MATTER WHAT happens with the GOP's attempt to ram through another rightwinger to build on their ALREADY STOLEN Court majority.
And with that, we open the phone lines today for thoughts on RBG's legacy and, much more so, what Democrats should and/or must do now...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)