Emil Guillermo: Trump gets his third Supreme Court justice in record time and builds the wall that matters
Leave it to Donald Trump to redefine all the political cliches about self-aggrandizing acts of governance.
Trump’s most shameless political stunt may have been the South Lawn celebration Monday night for the record-breaking Supreme Court confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett.
By a 52-48 vote, it was the most partisan confirmation in the 151-year history of the Supreme Court. Not a single Democrat crossed over to support the conservative judge who replaces the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the ardent defender of civil rights and progressive values.
It leaves us with the high court prone to a 6-3 conservative tilt that is so out of step with Asian Americans and other people of color who represent a new and different America.
You thought four years of Trump felt long? Generations of 6-3 SCOTUS decisions will be interminable.
Trump was unbearable in his celebration speech, justifying the rush to confirmation. “We are fulfilling the duty that passes to each new generation to sustain the national traditions and virtues that make possible everything we have achieved,” Trump read from the prompter. “Because of our constitution and our culture of freedom, you live in a land where anything is possible. And where any dream can come true, no matter your background. In America, everyone is entitled to equal protection under our laws and your sacred rights can never ever be taken away.”
Except, of course, by a Barrett-assured 6-3 conservative court.
Trump’s shameless gloating could have been avoided in a private ceremony with pictures to be released to the media. But Trump couldn’t help turning Barrett’s ascendency to the court into a campaign event. Trump treated this appointment as if he were personally driving a bulldozer over our democracy.
That made Monday night Trump’s trip to the winner’s circle. He had taken Barrett from the White House Rose Garden introduction a month ago, which left more than a dozen people infected with the coronavirus, to a televised, prime-time swearing in at the South Lawn.
One super-spreader event to another?
It was like Trump showing off his third justice like a trophy. And he was doing it his way–unmasked, with minimal social distancing, and all under his assertion that the country was turning the corner on the virus.
Which corner isn’t clear, considering the country’s spiking Covid numbers. Trump still chants at rallies how the media is obsessed with how many people are dying. “Covid, Covid Covid,” he says, adding, “Our numbers are so good, our comeback numbers.”
The numbers aren’t good. All the graphs look the way you’d like to see a 401K. Higher highs and higher lows. Maybe that’s what’s confusing to Trump.
You want Covid numbers to look like a short sale, down, down, down. But our numbers are up. 8.7 million confirmed cases as of Monday night, up 32 percent in two weeks.
The death count is at 225,676, up 12 percent in two weeks.
And the spread of the virus is so alarming throughout the country, especially in places like Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Utah.
It doesn’t seem to bother Trump, who co-opts all the cliches. The clothed emperor? The fiddling Nero? Trump revels in the dust he creates. He just doesn’t care.
He got his new justice, in the midst of a pandemic and just eight days before the presidential election. That’s what matters to him.
Our communities must now witness the grave consequences of a Supreme Court that could threaten our access to health care and reproductive freedom, affirmative action, voting rights, and our democracy.
And then there’s the looming possibility of another Bush v. Gore debacle, when your vote could taken away and given to the high court to decide. Will Barrett defend your voice and vote the way you would? Or will we be denied by Trump’s real wall, a 6-3 bloc on the high court?
Whether Trump wins or loses, for all the wall rhetoric since 2016, this was the wall Trump was able to build. The one that really matters.
Judging from the South Lawn celebration where she was paraded and feted by Trump, let’s hope that on certain issues, Justice Barrett has the good sense to recuse herself. In her remarks from the White House balcony, Barrett said: “I will do my job without any fear or favor. And I will do so independently of both the political branches and of my own preferences.”
Of course, at this point, she wasn’t under oath.
Barrett was put on the court for a reason. And by all political indicators, it wasn’t just because of her jurisprudence.
This is what I will never forget: Barrett taking the constitutional oath, one hand raised, the other hand on a Bible. She repeated the words of Justice Clarence Thomas, with Trump watching over them.
It was an image that should send Halloween shivers down everyone’s spine.
Emil Guillermo is an independent journalist/commentator. Updates at www.amok.com. Follow Emil on Twitter, and like his Facebook page. The views expressed in his blog do not necessarily represent AALDEF’s views or policies.