On Monday night, MSNBC prime-time shows spent the vast majority of their time discussing President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court. Of the 27 guests which appeared over the four-hour block from 8:00 p.m. to midnight ET, not a single conservative was given time to speak about the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
Democrats have taken two high-profile casualties this week in the war over sexual misconduct, while Republicans, at least for now, are unscathed. That state of affairs doesn’t sit well with Dahlia Lithwick, who worries about principled Dems putting themselves at a general competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis sleazy GOPers.
Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern hyped in a Wednesday item for Slate that "hard right" Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's "fingerprints are all over" the Trump administration, due to the fact that many of his former clerks now hold "high places" there. Litchwick and Sterm played up that Thomas's "once-fringy ideas are suddenly flourishing," and touted that he is "close buddies with Rush Limbaugh...[and] fringe radio dogmatist Mark Levin."
Clarence Thomas is known for speaking not softly, but rarely, when the Supreme Court holds oral arguments. Nonetheless, he carries a big stick in terms of influence on both the courts and the presidency, warn Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern. Thomas, who in Lithwick and Stern’s words had “spent his career teetering off the right edge of the federal bench,” now “finds himself at the center of the table.” As Lithwick and Stern tell it, the major difference between the president and the justice is that Trump is “far too witless to grasp, let alone implement, [Thomas’s] complex theories of law.”
Again showing the hypocrisy of its trumped-up contempt for Donald Trump’s pre-emptive, hypothetical questioning of the election results back when it looked like Hillary Clinton would roll, the New York Times again fosters the fight to keep Trump out of the White House and undemocratically install his Democratic opponent instead. Dahlia Lithwick, a senior editor for Slate, coauthored a cri de coeur for Wednesday’s Times: “Buck Up, Democrats, and Fight Like Republicans.”
Dahlia Lithwick knows her highly focused resistance movement will fail, but she proposed it anyway. In a Monday piece, the Slate legal analyst exhorted Democrats to “obstruct the nomination and seating” of anyone Donald Trump chooses to succeed Antonin Scalia, because “the current Supreme Court vacancy is not Trump’s to fill. This was President Obama’s vacancy and President Obama’s nomination. Please don’t tacitly give up on [the seat] because it was stolen by unprecedented obstruction and contempt. Instead, do to them what they have done to us. Sometimes, when they go low, we need to go lower, to protect a thing of great value.”
They’re calling it the feel-good romantic hit of the summer, or at least of the Democratic convention. Bill Clinton’s long, granular tribute to Hillary Rodham Clinton had several liberal pundits swooning. Dahlia Lithwick of Slate wrote that it was during this speech that “for the first time…most of us met” Hillary, whom “we have all been following and misunderstanding and cartooning for decades now.” Rebecca Traister of New York magazine gave Bill big props for reminiscing about how Hillary turned him on: "One of the roadblocks for women is objectification and sexualization, but when it comes to Hillary Clinton, whose ambition and brains have long rendered her bloodless in the American imagination, hearing her described as an object of desire could feel corrective and bizarrely just. So he did it."
Omar Mateen claimed at various times to be aligned with terrorist groups including ISIS, Hezbollah, and the al-Nusra Front. Tim Dickinson does not consider any of those bloodthirsty outfits “the greatest threat to our homeland security today.” That description, Dickinson argues, best fits the National Rifle Association. “The NRA's unhinged gun advocacy,” he wrote in a Wednesday article, “has created a soft underbelly to our homeland security that radicals are exploiting to inflict mass murder...Make no mistake: The NRA paved the way for the Orlando attack.”
Conservative Paul Ryan and liberal Lithwick agree that Donald Trump’s recent digs at Gonzalo Curiel were racist, but disagree about their significance. Ryan considers the attacks peculiar to Trump, while Lithwick sees them as of a piece with the Republican party’s “wider assault on the judiciary in the Obama era.”
Lithwick even wondered rhetorically, “Do Trump’s smears of Judge Curiel differ all that greatly from Senate Republicans’ refusal to even hold a hearing for Merrick Garland…? Sure, nobody on the Senate Judiciary Committee is calling Garland a biased Mexican. But the baseless, one-sided campaign to discredit a respected federal judge they once praised as moderate and well-qualified is just as damaging as Trump’s personal vindictiveness.”
Eight Is Enough was a popular television series in the late 1970s and early ’80s. Dahlia Lithwick hinted in a Saturday article that a show about Republicans’ sour attitude toward the current Supreme Court situation might be called Eight’s Not Enough, with the key role played in absentia by Antonin Scalia.
Lithwick theorized that for Republicans, “the 2016 term was meant to be the Supreme Court’s year to destroy Obama…Had [Scalia] lived until July the docket was full of poisoned pills and silent time bombs that would have exploded in President Obama’s face this summer…GOP senators aren’t just angry about losing Justice Scalia’s seat. They are angry because the court as the weapon of choice to screw the president has been taken from them, and they want it back.”
There’s a saying, attributed to Woody Allen, that “showing up is 80 percent of life.” Dahlia Lithwick suggested in a Tuesday piece that showing up might be even more important for Merrick Garland if he wants to become a Supreme Court justice. Lithwick semi-seriously wrote that if “by the end of September of 2016” Senate Republicans still haven’t given Garland a hearing, he “should simply suit up and take the vacant seat at the court."
By doing so, Lithwick claimed, Garland “would be achieving two vital goals: First, he would be doing his job and highlighting that this is precisely what Senate tantrum throwers are refusing to do. But second, he would be…bravely standing up for [the constitutional] principle [of] effective government…That principle is not something as ignoble as ‘we’ll blow up the court before we let it shift to the other side,’ which looks more like hostage-taking than taking a stand…Advise and consent doesn’t mean that the NRA or the Koch brothers get a veto.”
Over the past few days, a great many left-wing commentators have weighed in on Antonin Scalia-related issues, especially Scalia’s judicial legacy and Republicans’ refusal to consider anyone President Obama might nominate to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Highlights have included Slate's Dahlia Lithwick remarking that "sometimes it seemed [Scalia] worked overtime to earn your hate. He gloried in it. He wrote cruel, demeaning things about whole groups of Americans”; Salon's Amanda Marcotte alleging that Republicans won't consider any Obama nominees for the SCOTUS vacancy because "the conservative base has never accepted that a black Democrat could be a legitimately elected President”; and Esquire's Charles Pierce suggesting that Scalia be succeeded on the Court by Anita Hill.