Alaska’s Senator Lisa Murkowski has decided to vote for the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett because, in the senator’s words, “While I oppose the process that has led us to this point, I do not hold it against her as an individual who has navigated the gauntlet with grace, skill and humility.”
Noble, but wrongheaded and sanctimonious: for all Murkowski's supposed independence, it's just another Republican abdication.
In 2000 when the Supreme Court declared George W. Bush the winner of the presidential election, two events occurred that we may never witness again. First, Gore said “okay, you win,” and bowed out gracefully. (I wasn’t happy, but it was his choice.) And second, most people, myself included, didn’t complain about the "Republican Supreme Court." To me the decisions of that judicial body, whether I agreed or not, were fair, final, and beyond dispute.
Neither of those events is likely to happen for a long time, if ever, once Amy Coney Barrett is sworn in; for she will always be considered the final addition to the “Republican Court,” a fact that will render every one of her decisions—even the fairest and most unbiased—biased and political. And because she is still a young woman, she may carry that stigma for thirty years or more, while the people who rammed through her appointment—the McConnells and Grahams and Trumps of the world—will be dead and gone.
If Barrett holds true to form we may see the Barrett Court terminating the right of women to choose, the right of all citizens to health care, and the right of individuals to marry the person of one’s choice. Whether deserved or not, she will incur the blame and suffer the wrath while the real villains lie mouldering in graves somewhere, their trail of misery their most salient epitaph.
And it's true that Lisa Murkowski admires Barrett’s grace, skill, and humility, fine. Why not send her a note, “like” her on Facebook, dash off a complimentary tweet. But don’t use that admiration as an excuse to once again join your fellow Republicans in kowtowing to the demands of a fanatical and incompetent president, one who has abandoned the welfare of the American people and—by his own admission "we will not fight the pandemic." No Senator who has built a reputation on independence can support that man.
As frightful as the Kavanaugh appointment may have been, the event was mitigated by the fact that it occurred in the middle of Trump’s term and the president had every right to appoint him. The damage this time will endure long past the coming election, and although Senator Murkowski may admire Barrett, it's unlikely that current Democrats will ever be reconciled to her appointment, and that hostility, deserved or not, will permanently taint her required objectivity.
It was always thought that the three branches of government would function as checks and balances—that differences in legislative goals would be settled fairly and apolitically. After tomorrow that will be a quaint reminder of the past—Amy Coney Barrett will be just another feather in the Trump dunce cap.