Thursday, March 5, 2020

Supreme Court: Chuck Schumer’s attack on Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, explained - Vox

Supreme Court: Chuck Schumer’s attack on Gorsuch and Kavanaugh, explained - Vox
by Ian Millhiser
***Read in a less charitable light, Schumer’s statement is itself a massive norm violation — he threatened two high-ranking members of the judiciary. That statement will make a Democratic victory appear more threatening to Republicans, and send us deeper into a death spiral where Republicans are likely to violate norms in order to hold on to power.
But even if Schumer did intend to just make the banal point that Gorsuch and Kavanaugh will be sad if their party loses an election, the fact remains that Republicans perceive Schumer’s statement as a big violation of an important norm. Indeed, the two most powerful Republicans in the country — Roberts and President Trump — both condemned Schumer for his remarks. Trump tweeted that Schumer “must pay a severe price for this!
It does not matter, in other words, whether Schumer spoke with innocent intent.
And, on top of all of this, Schumer’s statement suggests that he does not view Gorsuch and Kavanaugh as legitimate. It’s exactly the sort of statement that a political leader makes to justify future norm violations that, once again, will push the United States deeper down the death spiral.
***Democrats are in a real conundrum. On the one hand, many of the Democratic Party’s problems — and American democracy’s problems — stems from the fact that our system is not particularly democratic. If Democrats insist on clinging to all established norms, they entrench a system that locks a majority of voters out of power. On the other hand, departing from norms will only accelerate our death spiral.
Yet while Democrats could be justified in breaking down some norms that undercut democracy (like, say, the filibuster), Schumer’s statement achieves no policy goal. It neither makes our government less dysfunctional, nor is it likely to inspire Gorsuch or Kavanaugh to behave less ideologically. It’s an unforced error that invites a reprisal without benefiting anyone.
Chief Justice Roberts is right that Schumer’s comments are the sort of remarks that have no place in a healthy democracy. But the United States is not a healthy democracy. Until that problem is fixed, the continuing erosion of democratic norms is inevitable.

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