By way of Politico, we find that Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, despite the occasional Very Serious Pundit claim, is still a hyperpartisan hack (boldface mine):
Mitch McConnell is making a last dash to stock the judiciary with conservatives this year as a hedge against the chance that Republicans lose the Senate in November.
The GOP may have only a few more months of unified control of Washington to repeal Obamacare or enact President Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan. But the Senate majority leader is taking a longer view — and confirming as many conservative judges as possible to lifetime appointments.
The move will show conservative voters that the Senate can still get things done even if Republicans lose the House and is part of McConnell’s years-long plan to reshape the courts after the presidency of Barack Obama shifted them to the left. Since becoming majority leader in 2015, the Kentucky Republican stymied Obama’s nominees for two years, including blocking a Supreme Court hopeful. And now he’s going into overdrive with Trump as president.
Trump has already nominated 69 judges, but there are 149 total vacancies. GOP leaders say McConnell is intent on filling as many as he can this year, in part out of concern that Democrats take back the Senate and exact retribution on McConnell and Trump for changing the face of the courts.
For a while now, I’ve been wondering why Democrats, when we get the chance, don’t seem to play hardball nearly as often. Then I came across (and even read!) David Faris’ It’s Time to Fight Dirty, who asks the same question. One reason is that too many professional Democrats still, even at this late hour, believe Republicans are a traditional political party, when, in fact, they are an antisystem party (p. 33-37; boldface mine):
…the late political scientst Giovanni Sartori is still considered to be one of the world’s most incivsive researchers and analysts of party politics in democratic countries. In the 1970s, he popularized the term “antisystem party” to refer to an agreement that “would not change–if it could–the government but the very system of government.” As he put it, an antisystem party “does not share the values of the political order within which it operates.”.. Sartori worried about what he called the “delegitimizing impact” of a party embedded in the political system that constantly calls into question the baseline legitimacy of its opposition.
I’ll have much more to say about Faris’ book, but Democrats need to realize that we have to stop–and if we can’t, slow–Republicans’ radicalism: Republicans proposed a judicial candidate who couldn’t clearly state that Plessy vs. Ferguson was a horrible decision. Democrats should be dragging out the nominations and stalling business in the Senate chamber, all the while pointing out how horrible these Republican candidates are, not conducting business as usual.
And if Democrats take back the Senate and the White House in 2020, they should stack the federal judiciary (but I’ll have more to say about that later). Instead of letting Republican slowly ‘rachet away’ norms to their advantage, beat them at their own game.