Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is a very busy man. Granted, it might not seem that way on the surface. After all, the Senate hasn’t passed shit when it comes to legislation lately, despite the fact that the U.S. House, controlled by Democrats, has been busy passing laws.
In fact, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called McConnell the “grim reaper” overseeing the “legislative graveyard” that is the Senate.
While it’s true that McConnell could be spending his days sending legislation to the Senate floor for a vote, he isn’t.
McConnell doesn’t GAF about legislation because he’s focused on one thing only: the courts. And he’s been very busy speeding Trump’s judicial nominees through the confirmation process.
Let me back up for a moment and remind you that we are living through a true Constitutional crisis. The Trump presidency is a nightmare we cannot wake up from and even some Republicans are now saying, “Huh, maybe having a crimey crime crimer for president is actually bad.” Some brave souls have even taken to calling out Trump on secret Twitter accounts (hi Mitt).
Though McConnell isn’t exactly smack-talking Trump (except when it comes to Syria), there is absolutely no way he thinks that this president is sane or that this presidency is sustainable.
But Republicans have been very clear for decades that they aren’t interested in governing. They run on the platform that government is never the solution and always the problem, and they have been very determined on proving that through their sheer incompetence and corruption.
Running the country doesn’t interest them, but having power? That’s their bag. And after the Republican Party implodes with the eventual fall of Trump, the only way to prevent progressive policies that Democrats will enact once in power is through the courts. Remember how McConnell stole a Supreme Court seat from President Obama? It was the most brazen heist in modern political history, and McConnell pulled it off, leaving the door open for Trump to nominate a conservative justice. And then another one. Both were confirmed.
As Paul Waldman wrote in The Washington Post on Oct. 14, “No matter what policy issue you think is most important — health care, climate change, reproductive rights, gun violence, immigration, workers’ rights or anything else — its fate will be determined by the Supreme Court.”
The LGBTQ community knows this all too well. We have seen great gains through Supreme Court rulings in recent years. And the issues of trans rights and employment rights are before the court right now.
And while the Supreme Court is, of course, the Golden Goose, all of those lower courts are important, too. And the Republicans have been rubber stamping any and all nominees Trump puts forth. They know that the presidency is on fire but they are going to confirm justices until they are overcome by flames, and then they’ll keep on doing it from hell.
The latest is Justin Walker who Republicans are very keen on giving a lifetime seat on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, even though the American Bar Association rated him as “not qualified.”
According to Jennifer Bendery, Huffington Post’s Senior Politics Reporter, such a rating is “rare and embarrassing.”
Walker is 37. Which means he could serve for 30, 40 or even 50 or more years.
The nonpartisan ABA cited Walker’s lack of trial and courtroom experience as reasons for their rating issuing this third-degree burn: “Based on review of his biographical information and conversations with Mr. Walker, it was challenging to determine how much of his 10 years since graduation from law school has been spent in the practice of law.”
So who in the hell recommended this guy?
As Bendery reports, one day after the ABA rating came out, Mitch McConnell tweeted: “This is unquestionably the most outstanding nomination that I’ve ever recommended to Presidents to serve on the bench in Kentucky.”
Yep, that’s right. This guy who caused the the ABA to ask, “Uh, do you even law, bro?” is the “most outstanding” guy McConnell could think of.
According to Bendery, “Since Trump became president, Senate Republicans have confirmed at least four lifetime federal judges who earned ‘not qualified’ ratings from the ABA.”
This is not normal. But where the ABA saw unqualified candidates, Republicans saw people who were qualified in fighting against LGBTQ people, abortion and immigrants. They want judges who will uphold the status quo, judges who will side with corporations, judges who will help cement the wealth hoarding of the 1 percent, judges who do everything they can to keep our government from working for the people.
So, yeah, McConnell may be a grim reaper, but it isn’t due to inaction on his part. Killing democracy is his business, and business is good.
D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.