Behold, the BEST Moments from Chris Matthews’s Hour-Long SCOTUS Meltdown on ‘Hardball’

It’s been an awful, infamous, and nightmare-inducing week for MSNBC’s Hardball host Chris Matthews. Tuesday saw the Supreme Court uphold President Trump’s travel ban, which was a pretty nasty blow for him. But Wednesday was infinity worse as swing Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. 

All day, Matthews had been off his rocker, screaming about the need for a vicious fight by Democrats to stop a new ninth justice from being seated. He even angrily shouted at Steve Kornacki for doing, well, absolutely nothing. That being said, it set the table for Hardball.

 

 

Matthews opened the show with over two and a half minutes of sheer panic, declaring in the opening tag: “It's time for Democrats to play hardball. I'm Chris Matthews urging them to do just that.”

“There are times to fight and this is one of them. If the Democrats in the U.S. Senate allow President Trump to pack the Supreme Court with a 5-4 majority for the next 30 years, it's not something the progressive Democratic voter will soon forget,” Matthews warned.

Appearing to directly address those who might be concerned about his state of mind, Matthews looked into the camera:

If this strikes anyone as a manifesto from me, so be it, but it is in truth a statement of political reality. The Democratic base will not accept failure. It will not listen to arguments how the 49 Senate Democrats could not stop the 50 voting Republicans from picking a Supreme Court for much of the century. Justice Kennedy was the defining force that is saved abortion rights, gave us marriage equality, who led a Court-majority for tolerance and respect for individual decision-making, believes Donald Trump has made clear he doesn’t share. 

Reminding viewers of Trump’s foolish idea during the campaign that women should face criminal punishment for abortion, Matthews declared that the President wants “to pack the Court with his idea of individual rights and criminal justice” and “[i]f the Democrats fail to stop him, there will be, I predict, a full-scale rebellion against the leaders.”

He continued (click “expand” for more):

That will be seen as the beginning of the fall if the Senate gives Trump his pick to fill this historic vacancy on this country's highest court. For those who say the Supreme Court is above politics, let me recite to you some cases. Bush v. Gore, that put W. in the White House and the country headed toward war in Iraq. Citizens United that put money in the power seat of American elections, both decisions were 5-4. If Trump gets his way in filling that number five seat, expect a lot more in the decades to come. If the Democrats fail to stop him, put a good share of the blame there.

Following in Matthews’ tone, Democratic California Senator Kamala Harris argued without evidence that, if Trump gets to appoint another justice, “[w]e’re looking at a destruction of the Constitution of the United States as far as I can tell, based on all the folks that he's been appointing thus far for lifetime appointments.”

As for some fake news, Matthews dredged up a false claim he made in February 2017 that no Republican met with Obama nominee Merrick Garland:

Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, said no to Barack Obama's pick Merrick Garland for the whole year. He said I’m not even going to talk to the guy. I'm not going to have hearings. I’m not going to let any of my people talk to him and he won because now you've got Neil Gorsuch. Are you guys going to play hardball this time and we’re not going to let you pass this, we’re not going to rush this through in a few months before election day. 

Based on my research for that piece, Garland met with 16 Republican Senators.

The show wasn’t a completely bitter tangent as other portions were gushy tributes to Kennedy. Matthews praised him as “a bit of a live and let live guy” who “found in the Constitution a way that the landmark decisions always find in the Constitution something really wonderful” in an “essential American liberty that we treasure.” Look out, Obama. You might have some competition.
 

 

 

Later, Matthews stopped himself short of saying Kennedy was a modern-day Atticus Finch, but swooned that “he seems to fit so comfortably into the American culture, this guy.”

It didn’t switch to all gooey praise as there was still more raging to do! On the Supreme Court itself, Matthews asserted that, when Republican appointed-justices make decisions, journalists must teach the public that those justices are “damn political” and make “partisan decisions on a partisan basis.”

Again on abortion, Matthews quipped that “maybe we'll bring back the sodomy laws and Trump will get his way and we'll have some form of punishment for women who choose abortion.”

Speaking to Planned Parenthood board member Alexis McGill Johnson, Matthews bemoaned how textualist judges aren’t able to make “profound decisions” on the Supreme Court because they decline to find justifications “in the spirit” of the Constitution (again, click “expand”):

I want to go to Alexis on this because I think that every great supreme court decision whether it was Roe v. Wade, the basic privacy rights of a woman to make a decision about her body and the idea that separate but equal is wrong inherently, these are all profound decisions where you can't find in a letter necessarily of the Constitution. You have to find it in the spirit inherit in it and what the constitution is all about in terms of the bill of rights. And so, you're not going to get a textualist, as the Senator just said, to help you on these landmark decisions. They're always going to be saying no. They'll always say leave it the way it was....Except for Roe v. Wade

Needless to say, Matthews deserves next week off with the Fourth of July next Wednesday. Perhaps it’ll allow him to calm down.

To see the relevant transcript from MSNBC’s Hardball on June 27, click “expand.”

MSNBC’s Hardball
June 27, 2018
7:00 p.m. Eastern

CHRIS MATTHEWS: It's time for Democrats to play hardball. I'm Chris Matthews urging them to do just that. [HARDBALL OPENING CREDITS] Good evening. I'm Chris Matthews in Washington. There are times to fight and this is one of them. If the Democrats in the U.S. Senate allow President Trump to pack the Supreme Court with a 5-4 majority for the next 30 years, it's not something the progressive Democratic voter will soon forget. Two years ago, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell mocked the Democrats by refusing to even meet with President Obama's court nominee. In 2018, with a handful of months before election day, one that will decide which party controls the Senate, Democrats owe it to their party, their principles and to their own survival to do to Mitch what Mitch did to them. If this strikes anyone as a manifesto from me, so be it, but it is in truth a statement of political reality. The Democratic base will not accept failure. It will not listen to arguments how the 49 Senate Democrats could not stop the 50 voting Republicans from picking a Supreme Court for much of the century. Justice Kennedy was the defining force that is saved abortion rights, gave us marriage equality, who led a Court-majority for tolerance and respect for individual decision-making, believes Donald Trump has made clear he doesn’t share. He believes, as he told me personally, that there needs to be some form of punishment for a woman choosing an abortion. He has supported capital punishment, even for minors and he, Donald Trump, is the guy out to pack the Court with his idea of individual rights and criminal justice. If the Democrats fail to stop him, there will be, I predict, a full scale rebellion against the leaders. The first sign of which we saw in Joe Crowley's stunning defeat yesterday in New York. That will be seen as the beginning of the fall if the Senate gives Trump his pick to fill this historic vacancy on this country's highest court. For those who say the Supreme Court is above politics, let me recite to you some cases. Bush v. Gore, that put W. in the White House and the country headed toward war in Iraq. Citizens United that put money in the power seat of American elections, both decisions were 5-4. If Trump gets his way in filling that number five seat, expect a lot more in the decades to come. If the Democrats fail to stop him, put a good share of the blame there.

(....)

7:05 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you, what’s it going to look like he gets his pick — if Trump gets what he wants here? What's the court going to look like for the next 30 years? 

CALIFORNIA DEMOCRATIC SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS: We’re looking at a destruction of the Constitution of the United States as far as I can tell, based on all the folks that he's been appointing thus far for lifetime appointments. He's been appointing ideologues. He has been appointing people who have refused to agree Brown v. Board of Education is settled law. He has been appointing people who haven’t even been found to be well qualified or even qualified by bar associations. So this has got to be one of the — and we all need to understand this to be one of the most serious fights that we have yet to have had with this President and we cannot relent. We are going to have to fight to the end to make sure that we can do anything and everything that is possible to require this President to choose a consensus pick.

(....)

7:06 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, said no to Barack Obama's pick Merrick Garland for the whole year. He said I’m not even going to talk to the guy. I'm not going to have hearings. I’m not going to let any of my people talk to him and he won because now you've got Neil Gorsuch. Are you guys going to play hardball this time and we’re not going to let you pass this, we’re not going to rush this through in a few months before election day. 

(....)

7:07 p.m. Eastern

HARRIS: This is about a swing vote. This is a different seat. This is a — this is a different seat and everything lays in the balance in terms of how this Court could swing on everything from choice, Roe v. Wade to what we did in terms of same-sex marriage to so many issues that are about fundamental rights and about respecting the constitution of the United States. So this is not like Gorsuch. 

MATTHEWS: Yeah.

HARRIS: This will have generational impact and let's all be clear about this. The decisions made by the United States Supreme Court make decisions about who we are as a country and who we can be and who will be where in this country. Had the United States Supreme Court, under the leadership of Earl Warren, a Californian, not decided Brown v. Board of Education, I would not be sitting here talking with you right now. 

MATTHEWS: Let’s talk about the heart we're going to lose here because Justice Kennedy, although he was a conservative, he was conservative, he was a northern California conservative. So, I sorta get that. 

HARRIS: Yeah.

MATTHEWS: In other words, he was a bit of live and let live guy. He was — he believed — he found in the Constitution a way that the landmark decisions always find in the Constitution something really wonderful. He found that, not just like in Warren, found the injustice of separate but equal, the essential — the injustice of it. He found in it the liberty clause and the constitutional protection for people to have same-sex marriage to have — not to be stopped by an undo burden to make a choice about reproduction. He found that that essential American liberty that we treasure. Do you count on anybody trump picking doing that? 

(....)

7:18 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: Well, we've learned that a Republican — actually, that just as justices are picked by presidents, presidents are picked by justices and we saw in 2000 in Bush v. Gore. We better remember — teach the voters, as journalists, that the voters understand that this supreme court is damn political. Look what it did in the Citizens United, look what it did in Bush v. Gore. It makes partisan decisions on a partisan basis. Five Republicans over four Democrats. That’s the way they act. This should be part of our electoral process and not allowed to occur before we even get the vote.

(....)

7:29 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: He seems to be and I don’t want to equate — maybe Atticus Finch is too much, but he seems like he was — he seems to fit so comfortably into the American culture, this guy. 

(....)

7:30 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: Well, maybe we'll bring back the sodomy laws and Trump will get his way and we'll have some form of punishment for women who choose abortion. What a world we're headed toward.

(....)

7:38 p.m. Eastern

MATTHEWS: I want to go to Alexis on this because I think that every great Supreme Court decision whether it was Roe v. Wade, the basic privacy rights of a woman to make a decision about her body and the idea that separate but equal is wrong inherently, these are all profound decisions where you can't find in a letter necessarily of the Constitution. You have to find it in the spirit inherit in it and what the constitution is all about in terms of the bill of rights. And so, you're not going to get a textualist, as the Senator just said, to help you on these landmark decisions. They're always going to be saying no. They'll always say leave it the way it was. Your thoughts.

ALEXIS MCGILL JOHNSON: Yes, absolutely. I mean —

MATTHEWS: Except for Roe v. Wade


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