Monday, April 3, 2017

Democrats' obligation: Fight like hell

It's about the public record now.

It's about Coretta Scott King speaking from the grave to remind us how one-time judge and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions winked in approval from the bench at racist schemes to keep black people from the polls.

It's about our new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos showing how little she knows about public education.

It's about the man charged with protecting the environment, new EPA chief Scott Pruitt, asserting that his chief role is to protect polluters.

All of these things, and more, we have learned in the hearings on Donald Trump's horrific personnel choices.

From them we have on the record the dubious thoughts of those dangerously positioned to harm their respective arms of our government.

For this reason -- although Judge Neil Gorsuch is a cut above, by Trump's abominable appointment standards -- the Democrats must fight his nomination with every ounce of their being.

They owe it to us all to have a long-needed conversation about two institutions in question, our highest court and our Constitution.

We know now how Gorsuch sided with a trucking firm that fired a driver for leaving his unworking rig while waiting hours for company help. His other option was freezing to death inside the cab.

We know Gorsuch sided with Hobby Lobby in its refusal to provide coverage for something its owners considered immoral – birth control – under the Affordable Care Act.

We know Gorsuch opposed the landmark Supreme Court ruling that caused one of the last great edifices of bigotry and discrimination -- state prohibitions on same-sex marriage -- to crumble.

Granted, Gorsuch is intelligent. He and has a commendable temperament. Trump could have chosen worse.

And that is completely beside the point.

The Democrats have to fight like hell, delay with every day, because the longer this matter is digested by the public, the more it will be aware of the stakes.

The last time the nation was riveted to matters like these was during the 1987 hearings for Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, rejected by the Senate. The proceedings provided a magnificent and compelling lesson in judicial philosophy. At issue was the same "strict constructionism" that makes Gorsuch a favorite of hard-right players like the Federalist Society.

In the Bork hearings, we found out that the right of privacy upheld for decades by way of the 14th Amendment's "liberty" clause causes many strict constructionists to break out in hives.

We also found out that these people hold the "equal protection" clause of the same amendment to apply only to the emancipated slaves that the authors had in mind, and not today to women, gays and lesbians, the transgendered, Latinos, Muslims or any other marginalized group.

If this stone-age philosophy does not apply to Gorsuch, he should disavow it. Does the Constitution mean "equal protection" for only a few? That how the Federalist Society reads it.

Keep talking, Dems. Keep resisting.

Remind Americans, particularly the nearly 60 percent who are offended by the Trump presidency, that the only reason the seat in question is vacant is because Republicans in the Senate subverted the very Constitution they venerate when refusing to have hearings for Barack Obama's choice, Judge Merrick Garland.

Democrats have to fight with every step and every breath the reign of the man who placed second in the popular vote and says he won by a landslide. Any mandate he claims is less than microscopic. They have to fight because in congressional district after congressional district, state after state, angry constituents are demanding that they not roll over and play dead.

With their calls and emails and letters to members of Congress, with their protests and marches, these constituents have gone on the record. We must put the Trump administration on the record at every opportunity, so no one will forget at the next opportunity to choose new leadership.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:



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