The Donald announced the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court just last Tuesday night. Tonight, Friday, I saw an ad on my TV that presented him as the love child of Solomon and Betty Crocker, just that wise and wholesome. Interesting, I thought, that the ad was airing here in Missouri where there’s a vulnerable Democratic Senator who might be inclined to resist the nomination, but who also might be susceptible to a little public pressure to go along if somebody could gin it up. And somebody wasn’t wasting any time.
That “somebody” is the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN). This is the group that ran a $4 million TV, radio and Internet campaign last year opposing President Obama’s SCOTUS nominee, the centrist Judge Merrick Garland – who was, by any non-political measure measure, every bit as qualified as Gorsuch. They’ve also run ads thanking Senate judiciary Chair, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) for “holding the line” against Garland, and thanking Trump for promising to select a Scalia clone for the Supreme Court. You get the idea.
The JCN is the creature of Republican activists Neil and Ann Corkery and California real estate mogul Robin Arkley II. It is part of a network of interlocking organizations dedicated to moving the judiciary in the conservative, pro-corporate direction desired by the web of dark-money donors who keep it charging ahead. OpenSecret.org writes that that the JCN:
… fought to block Obama’s nominees to the high court, but it has spent millions to sway state judicial elections and attorneys general races, helping to uphold state laws backed by conservatives, nurture like-minded talent in the states, and advance pro-business, limited-government legal agendas aligned with its donors’ leanings.
To expand its influence in state elections, JCN has emerged as a pipeline for secret money to other, better-known dark money groups like the Wisconsin Club for Growth and the American Future Fund which, in turn, have spent big bucks in state Supreme Court and AG races.
Here it is folks, the Great Right Wing Conspiracy, judicial branch. And the only thing we’ve got to fight it with is our progressive grassroots and a Democratic congressional minority. Where are our TV ads, I ask? Where is George Soros when we need him? Certainly not in the dark places occupied by JCN donors.
Pray that Senator McCaskill will stand strong. The stakes are high. Mischa Haider and Bruce Hay sum up the urgency of the situation in The Guardian, observing, correctly as we all know, that the Supreme Court is the only thing standing between us and a viciously authoritarian Trump administration:
The American republic under Trump is moving towards a possible constitutional collapse, and the magnitude of its inertia is commensurate with our republic’s colossal proportions. No one can know when the erosion of democratic institutions will reach the point of no return.
Trump is already pressuring congressional Republicans to abolish the filibuster if Democrats use it against Gorsuch; doubtless he will do the same for his next nominee. There is nothing to be gained through appeasement.
The time to push back and deliver the full force of resistance is now, because we have no idea what the future holds. The Democrats may not succeed in preventing Gorsuch’s appointment, but our democracy is worth the fight.
Take that JCN!
* Post publication edits: Phrase “to go along” added to next to last sentence in 1st paragraph; “non-political” inserted in first sentence of 2nd paragraph (2/4/17, 1:48 pm).