Mitch McConnell, small time defender of democracy?

So hear me out.

I’m under the impression that McConnell is the real power behind Trump’s judicial nominees. Trump is a dumbass who just signs the laws, McConnell picks the nominees. And almost all of Trump’s judicial nominees have thrown out his baseless election lawsuits.

I worry the GOP will learn the wrong lesson from this. The lesson they’ll learn is ‘we need more wingnuts like Sean Hannity who don’t care about the constitution or democracy on the courts’ and thats what they’re going to pack the courts with. Even Kavanaugh rejected Trump’s recent lawsuit. In venezuela, one tactic Chavez used to cement power is packing the courts with partisans. In Poland the PiS party is trying to do the same thing. Packing the courts with radical partisans is one of the steps in turning a democracy into an authoritarian state.

While McConnell is a POS, and has shown a total happiness to oppress democracy via things like gerrymandering, does he deserve some credit for picking judges who would defend democracy from Trump’s idiocy? Or am I being naive. Or is it just a bad sign that things have gotten so bad that Trump’s judicial nominees being willing to be professional and defend the constitution is seen as surprising?

Let’s not get carried away in describing Trump judges as “defending democracy.” Sure, the judiciary – including some Trump-appointed judges – have been unwilling to go along with a particularly brazen attempt to overturn the clear outcome of the election based on no evidence, no precedent, and no remotely plausible legal argument. That’s about the lowest bar you can clear and still claim to be a jurist. But these same Trump judges will gleefully uphold the voter suppression policies that Republican states will enact in the wake of the election to consolidate their power.

Trump’s biggest fuck up over the last four years was farming out his judicial appointments to Mitch McConnell. He never understood why Republicans got so worked up over judges, but he knew that did, so he was more than happy to appoint whichever judges Mitch said would get his supporters the most excited. And these judges were all Federalist Society drones with impeccable conservative legal credentials but zero personal loyalty toward or affinity for Trump. And now that they have cemented a conservative judiciary for a generation due to Trump and McConnell’s work to pack the courts, they don’t need him any more.

I don’t think McConnell is such a strategic genius that all of what’s going on now with Trump and his followers is part of his master plan. To some extent he got a vicious narcissistic tiger by the tail, and it has been challenging for him to manage things exactly the way he’d want them. McConnell doesn’t want this getting out of control, he doesn’t want civil war, he doesn’t want this country turning into a failed authoritarian state, because that’s not good for business. Unlike Trump, who wears his authoritarian values on his sleeve and transparently tries to bulldoze anything that stands in his way, I think McConnell wants to maintain the facade of democracy and the rule of law, while subverting the electoral process and the courts as much as necessary to achieve his ends.

So McConnell is a “small time defender of democracy” only in a very limited sense: decent people and McConnell are aligned only in that we don’t want civil war, we don’t want total chaos. But to whatever extent McConnell holds the line, it’s purely realpolitik, it’s because chaos is bad for business, not because he actually cares about democratic principles or anything this country is supposed to stand for.

The Federalist Society is the power behind conservative Supreme Court choices. McConnell is just a toady faithfully following his corporate master’s edicts. If a seat becomes open McConnell will phone the Federalist Society to get the next candidate.

Trump certainly has no clue. I doubt he could tell you what branch of government the Supreme Court belongs to.

This is correct. I watched this excellent Frontline episode (Supreme Revenge) that details McConnell’s long history and strategy around packing the Supreme Court and other courts with conservative judges by tapping into the Federalist Society. It goes all the way back to Robert Bork. With Trump, he literally just asked them for a list of preferred nominees, which they were all too happy to provide.

I came in to say Federalist Society, so let me third it. McConnell no doubt is ecstatic to comply, but he’s not the mastermind.

The Trump picks will find legitimate legal ways to apply their conservative desires to court decisions. They ignored Trump’s attempted coup because it sailed a thousand miles past legitimate. Don’t let this isolated insanity fool you into thinking it’s anything other than a one-of-a-kind outlier.

Thirded - my opinion/impression as well.

Hey, I thirded it six minutes before you did.

May the fourth be with you.

if McConnell did anything even remotely beneficial to the USA, it was totally for the wrong reason. And whatever the benefit was it was probably flat out inadvertent.

I think that it really comes down to motivation. Many people (most prominantly Trump) expect that conservative judges would bow done before Trump and go along with his most outrageous ideas because that is what they see Congress doing. But that is because Congress needs to be re-elected and so needs the support of Trumps mindless minions behind them. Judges with lifetime appointments don’t.

Anyone with half a brain can see that Trump is a disaster and is bad for the country, and judges are generally a select bunch. They aren’t going to want to go down in history as the one who overturned Democracy in favor of an Orange abomination. I think that finding judges who would mindlessly follow Trump would actually take some doing.

The broad conclusion, in response to the title, is that McConnell is a big-time defender of the appearance of democracy while behind the scenes the actual functional institutions are broken and inoperable and completely at the mercy of political manipulation.

Sorry but this is ridiculous. Even if we were giving McConnell credit for packing the courts with judges with the bare minimum professionalism*, that has to be viewed in the context of someone who has demolished democracy in countless ways:

  1. Ignoring all the norms and conventions to pack the federal courts and supreme court in the first place
  2. Blocking anything like a real impeachment from happening, to hell with national security
  3. Being “the reaper”; blocking even the discussion of popular bills that have come from the house
  • Personally I’m disappointed with many of the judges’ verdicts, particularly the US supreme court. e.g. Saying that Texas doesn’t have standing is the absolute bare minimum they could have done. If they had also included a statement on how anti-democratic and dangerous this is (as some of the state courts have), this shit might be put to rest that bit sooner.

It’s still possible to attribute a selfish motive to McConnell. He probably realizes that if an actual coup were to take place, he probably wouldn’t be one of the leaders in the new regime, but rather one of those who has to do what Trump says.

Just a warning based on a suspicion of mine. The Republican drive to appoint judges has more to do with overturning Roe vs Wade than laws favoring voter suppression. Actually it’s both, but the ultimate goal of voter suppression is overturning Roe vs Wade in a lot of these evangelical circles.

Overturning Roe vs Wade is the primary goal of some circles, which mostly doesn’t include the circle of people appointing the actual judges. I’m quite confident that the republican party considers the evangelicals and single issue voters (both abortion and gun) to be useful idiots who can be easily manipulated into being reliable votes.

Frankly, at this particular moment, I’ll take that for what it’s worth.

The forces behind entities like the Federalist Society and Heritage are not going to be too sanguine about sustaining a personal authoritarian populist regime. That contains too high a risk of that specific authoritarian person one day reacting to something that upsets him about how things are going and saying “you know what, corporate personality upsets me”, or “you know what, that whole tax-cutting thing was bullshit”. Or just, “that guy over there? I think he’s against me. Do what you must.” And be in a position to make it stick.

However I wonder if they see a threat in the proliferation of politically unsophisticated representative officials. Those are mighty useful in that they wil read the talking points and won’t question deeply where the judicial nominees are coming from or what are the theories behind the tax policy. But as we are seeing, they are also too likely to go right along with the personal authoritarian, if it gets them primary votes.

I doubt that the Republicans who are minds behind the plans for the judiciary give a flying fuck about Roe. It’s much more about the court being pro-business/pro-establishment. One thing that conservative judges do is promote the status quo and the status quo has worked wonderfully for those people; they’d like to keep things that way.

This is very true.
And it’s obviously something that Trump really failed to understand. The judges he appointed were conservative judges; not Trump judges. And what these judges really DON’T WANT is to make radical decisions (like dumping 80,000 votes) that will totally upend the system, and screw with the status quo.

And they will not get into destabilizing the business climate, and creating an environment in which you can’t trust the election result does just that.

Also, who tells them that those who today questions the legitimacy of the election result and claim they should be able to legislatively ignore it and informally threaten the officials with violence if they don’t rule their way, will not be tomorrow questioning the legitimacy of their court’s ruling and claiming they can legislatively overrule it and threaten them with violence if they don’t decide their way.

Agree. Trump assumed they would be “loyal” Trump judges above all else.