In these polarized times, court nominations unite political parties even more than individual issues. Justice Kennedy’s retirement can be a clarifying moment for the Democratic Party.
We have a Supreme Court nomination from an unpopular president who lost the popular vote by 2.8 million. Unpopular Republicans in the Senate will attempt to rush through the nomination of Judge Kavanagh, the president’s choice to replace Justice Kennedy. Neither Senate Republicans nor House Republicans won the majority of the vote in 2016.
Senator Joe Biden warned the U.S. Congress in 2000 that the judiciary is taking an ever-greater hand in policy areas ranging from immigration to guns to ballot access to worker rights. And he was right. Of course, it is not just the Supreme Court nominees that make a difference. Lower court appointments matter just as much. It’s time for liberals to put the judiciary back into the conversation. And there is one thing they can do that can make a whirlwind of difference: win elections.
By taking back control of Congress this fall, Democrats can halt the Republican
legislative agenda and gain subpoena power. This can curtail the conservative circuit court nominations that House Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is ramming through.
Democrats have a decisive advantage in public opinion polls concerning health care, corporate power, dark money in politics, corruption in the White House and environmental issues. They should not ignore these and other social issues such as a women’s right to choose, voting rights, and affirmative action, as these issues ignite the passions of many liberal Democrats. However, now is the time for Democratic candidates to drive home to voters the crucial role the judiciary plays in shaping our nation and the reason the courts should be a key voting concern on Election Day.