I’ve read that because of how Neil Gorsuch ascended to the Supreme Court, you consider the current high court “illegitimate.” That’s a harsh assessment. Can you explain how you came to it?
It’s not that I think that Neil Gorsuch isn’t otherwise qualified to be a justice, but his seat was obtained illegitimately.
After Justice Scalia died in February of 2016, President Obama still had almost a year left to his term. So that Supreme Court seat was rightfully his to fill. But Mitch McConnell refused to hold any hearings on Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. The seat was held vacant till Trump took office and could appoint the Federalist Society candidate, Neil Gorsuch.
This was an absurd denial of a president’s constitutional right to have his nomination considered by the Senate. It was not Donald Trump’s to fill. This was a theft of the Supreme Court. The right stole the Supreme Court. They stole it.
I’ve just read Carl Hulse’s book Confirmation Bias, and he clearly documents what happened. When Justice Scalia died, one of the first persons to be told about his death, before it was even public, was Leonard Leo, the strategic guy for the Federalist Society. It was Leo who told Mitch McConnell about Scalia’s death.
Can you imagine that the majority leader of the Senate finds out from some guy representing an outside interest group? He doesn’t find out directly from the court or the family. That is how powerful they have become.
Essential reading on the damage to the United States’ justice system — not merely the judiciary — and one effort to begin picking up the pieces.
‘The Right Stole the Court’: An Interview with Russ Feingold | New York Review of Books