Writing for the Huffington Post, columnist Nick Visser tore into Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for a Washington Post op-ed attacking Democrats for purportedly undermining "judicial independence" — driven specifically by the push by liberal activists to rebalance courts by adding additional seats or changing the life tenure process.
"'Judicial independence is as fragile as it is important. The Framers of our Constitution took great pains to protect it,' the senator wrote, demanding that Democrats 'leave the Supreme Court alone.' 'Every single American deserves every possible guarantee that they will receive impartial justice. It would be beyond reckless for Democrats to smash this centuries-old safeguard in a fit of partisan pique.'"
"The piece left out any mention of McConnell's own dramatic and unprecedented efforts to reshape not just the Supreme Court but the nation's entire judiciary to lean more conservative," noted Visser. "As Senate majority leader, the Republican broke precedent and refused to hold hearings on Merrick Garland, nominated by President Barack Obama in March 2016, pointing to a 'principle' about Supreme Court vacancies in an election year. He broke that so-called principle last year following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Sept. 18, 2020, and rushed to confirm Amy Coney Barrett at a breakneck pace. He called that moment a 'capstone' in his years-long effort under Donald Trump to confirm 220 federal judges, effectively pulling the nation's judiciary further to the right."
Since winning unified control of Congress and the White House, while Democrats as a whole have not endorsed significant structural changes to the federal courts, they have worked at a furious pace to build up a bench of their own judges, nominating a professionally diverse team of civil rights lawyers and public defenders to benches all over the country.
"McConnell and other Republicans, now out of power, have latched on to the Democratic proposals coming from the party's progressive flank but have regularly refused to link those frustrations to the GOP's own politicking," noted Vissar. "There was, in fact, outrage last year during Barrett's confirmation, but McConnell didn't heed it."
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