The numerous 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decisions with far-reaching impacts made possible with Neil Gorsuch’s vote is proof that Mitch McConnell stealing Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court seat is likely the biggest heist in American history.
On Tuesday, SCOTUS upheld President Trump’s travel ban targeting predominantly Muslim countries in a narrow 5-4 decision. Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim American elected to Congress, predicted the decision would end up in the “dust bin of history” along with the 1850 Sanford v. Dred Scott decision that upheld chattel slavery. Most notably, Rep. Ellison appeared to call out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) for stealing a Supreme Court seat.
“It just proves one thing, that if you steal and rip off a Supreme Court justice, then you can try to jam any kind of nasty, racist, ugly policy down the throat’s of the American people. But we’re not taking it,” Ellison said.
The travel ban decision comes just a day after SCOTUS voted 5-4 to uphold gerrymandered Congressional district maps in Texas and North Carolina — five years to the day that a conservative Supreme Court majority voted 5-4 to strike down key portions of the Voting Rights Act (still several years before Justice Antonin Scalia passed away). And roughly two weeks ago, the nation’s highest court voted 5-4 to allow Ohio’s Secretary of State to purge voters from the rolls for simply not participating in two consecutive elections — likely disenfranchising many Ohioans ahead of the critical 2018 midterm elections.
All of these decisions precede the coming decision in Janus v. AFSCME, which very well may be another 5-4 decision that would severely cripple public sector labor unions. Because Justice Gorsuch has a long track record of ruling in favor of businesses in various disputes with workers, it’s likely he’ll be the deciding vote in a SCOTUS decision that could strip unions of financial resources and influence in the workplace.
As bad as each of these individual decisions are, they’re even worse when remembering that Justice Gorsuch is sitting in a stolen seat that should, by every reasonable standard, belong to Merrick Garland.
After Justice Scalia died in early 2016, former President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland, the current chief justice of the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is the nation’s second-most powerful judicial body aside from SCOTUS. Garland is arguably a moderate, as his judicial philosophy and history of past decisions has been to allow federal agencies to exercise their own discretion rather than for justices to impose their own views.
Even though Garland was nominated in March, with presidential primaries for both parties still in full swing, Sen. McConnell outright refused to even give Garland a hearing. His argument was that the senate would “continue to observe the Biden Rule so that the American people have a voice in this momentous decision,” meaning that no confirmation hearings would be conducted given that it was an election year.
However, the so-called “Biden Rule,” which stemmed from a 1992 floor speech that then-Senator Joe Biden, who was chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, was never an official rule voted on and adopted by the senate. And at the time Biden gave that speech, there was no vacancy on SCOTUS, or any nomination awaiting a confirmation vote. There actually isn’t any precedent for a SCOTUS nominee to be denied a hearing due to an upcoming election. McConnell shifting blame to Biden for his obstruction of Garland’s confirmation was simply cowardice.
The seat Neil Gorsuch is sitting in rightfully belongs to Merrick Garland by all accounts. There’s sadly no solution to remedy the stolen Supreme Court seat, as Gorsuch has been confirmed. Even if he was impeached and removed from the seat, President Trump would simply get to appoint a new, likely even worse justice to replace him.
But the theft of Merrick Garland’s seat can and should serve as a cautionary tale to Americans to be wary of who ends up becoming Senate Majority Leader, as one person can singlehandedly disrupt the entire SCOTUS and put a person the bench that can make decisions with the potential to harm millions of Americans for decades.