Mike Pence, Holy Terror

Are you sure you want to get rid of Donald Trump?

There are problems with impeaching Donald Trump. A big one is the holy terror waiting in the wings.

That would be Mike Pence, who mirrors the boss more than you realize. He’s also self-infatuated. Also a bigot. Also a liar. Also cruel.

To that brimming potpourri he adds two ingredients that Trump doesn’t genuinely possess: the conviction that he’s on a mission from God and a determination to mold the entire nation in the shape of his own faith, a regressive, repressive version of Christianity. Trade Trump for Pence and you go from kleptocracy to theocracy.

.. The book persuasively illustrates what an ineffectual congressman he was, apart from cozying up to the Koch brothers, Betsy DeVos and other rich Republican donors

..  the strong possibility that he wouldn’t have won re-election; his luck in being spared that humiliation by the summons from Trump, who needed an outwardly bland, intensely religious character witness to muffle his madness and launder his sins; and the alacrity with which he says whatever Trump needs him to regardless of the truth.

.. In Pence’s view, any bite marks in his tongue are divinely ordained. Trump wouldn’t be president if God didn’t want that; Pence wouldn’t be vice president if he weren’t supposed to sanctify Trump. And his obsequiousness is his own best route to the Oval Office, which may very well be God’s grand plan.

.. “I don’t think he’s as resilient, politically, as Bill Clinton was,” D’Antonio said. “He doesn’t relish a partisan fight in the same way. He loves to go to rallies where people adore him.”

There’s no deeply felt policy vision or sense of duty to sustain him through the investigations and accusations. “If the pain is great enough,” D’Antonio said, “I think he’d be disposed not to run again.”

.. It suggests callousness at best toward African-Americans. As governor, Pence refused to pardon a black man who had spent almost a decade in prison for a crime that he clearly hadn’t committed. He also ignored a crisis — similar to the one in Flint, Mich. — in which people in a poor, largely black Indiana city were exposed to dangerously high levels of lead. D’Antonio told me: “I think he’s just as driven by prejudice as Trump is.”
.. he rallied behind the unhinged former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio. In a speech he called Arpaio a “tireless champion” of the “rule of law.” This was after Arpaio’s contempt-of-court conviction for ignoring a federal judge’s order to stop using illegal tactics to torment immigrants. The conservative columnist George Will seized on Pence’s speech to write that Pence had dethroned Trump as “America’s most repulsive public figure.”
.. You can thank Pence for DeVos. They are longtime allies, going back decades, who bonded over such shared passions as making it O.K. for students to use government money, in the form of vouchers, at religious schools.
Pence cast the tiebreaking vote in the Senate to confirm her as education secretary.
.. Pence once spoke positively on the House floor about historical figures who “actually placed it beyond doubt that the offense of abortion was a capital offense, punishable even by death.” He seemed to back federal funds for anti-gay conversion therapy. He promoted a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

He is absolutely certain that his moral view should govern public policy,” D’Antonio told me.

..  Pence sees himself and fellow Christian warriors as a blessed but oppressed group, and his “hope for the future resided in his faith that, as chosen people, conservative evangelicals would eventually be served by a leader whom God would enable to defeat their enemies and create a Christian nation.”

.. Is America worse off with Trump or Pence?

“I have to say that I prefer Donald Trump, because I think that Trump is more obvious in his intent,” he said, while Pence tends to “disguise his agenda.”


There’s So Much You Don’t Know About Brett Kavanaugh

One proposal would limit justices to 18-year terms, which would create an opening on the court every two years, and reduce some of the political gamesmanship that surrounds open seats today. But any change to the justices’ tenure would require a constitutional amendment, and so is a longer debate for another day.

.. During the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump publicized a list of possible Supreme Court nominees preapproved by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, another conservative group. It was scrubbed of any squishes along the lines of David Souter, Anthony Kennedy or even Chief Justice Roberts, all of whom have been deemed insufficiently committed to the cause for failing to vote in lock step with the radical right’s agenda. (Judge Kavanaugh was left off the original list but was added later.)

The Federalist Society claims to value the so-called strict construction of the Constitution, but this supposedly neutral mode of constitutional interpretation lines up suspiciously well with Republican policy preferences — say, gutting laws that protect voting rights, or opening the floodgates to unlimited political spending, or undermining women’s reproductive freedom, or destroying public-sector labor unions’ ability to stand up for the interests of workers.

.. Senate Democrats need to use the confirmation process to explain to Americans how their Constitution is about to be hijacked by a small group of conservative radicals well funded by ideological and corporate interests

.. We’re witnessing right now a global movement against the idea of liberal democracy and, in places like Hungary and Poland, its grounding in an independent judiciary. Mr. Trump and Senate Republicans appear happy to ride this wave to unlimited power. They will almost certainly win this latest battle, but it’s a victory that will come at great cost to the nation, and to the court’s remaining legitimacy.

.. Americans who care about the court’s future and its role in the American system of government need to turn to the political process to restore the protections the new majority will take away, and to create an environment where radical judges can’t be nominated or confirmed.

‘Don’t You Dare Touch Roe!’ — Judicial Confirmation Silly Season Begins

Roe probably won’t be overturned because it probably won’t come up; Casey is the center of abortion law nowadays.

.. the cesspool that judicial-confirmation politics has become since his name became a synonym for slander in 1987 — a debacle that changed history for the worse in more ways than the woodenly whimsical Anthony Kennedy’s assumption of what should have been the Bork seat.

.. Thanks to Justice Kennedy, we’ve actually been living in a Casey world — as in Planned Parenthood v. Casey — for the past quarter century. For good and for ill.

..  It is a sign of our wayward times that a “conservative” judge is one committed to construing the law as it is written, in accordance with what it was commonly understood to mean when adopted. You might think that’s simply what a judge is. But progressives rely on robed legislators to block the elected officials who beat them at the polls, and to impose on the nation what they cannot enact democratically. These are known as judges with “empathy.”

Collins wants you to know: She’s not one of those staid old Republicans looking for a staid old by-the-book jurist. She wants empathy!

.. Rhetorically at least, this 1973 ruling’s fabrication of a constitutional right to abort unborn children retains for progressives its sacral status. But in point of fact, the Supreme Court itself has dismantled much of Roe’s framework. What survives is its narrowing core.

.. Democrats eliciting verbal acrobatics from solid nominees who are well aware both that Roe is atrociously reasoned and that saying so will imperil their confirmation chances.

.. If abortion ever gets rolled back in this country, it will be because a cultural shift forces legal change, not the other way around.

.. Casey was a triple gut punch for conservatives.

  1. First, in a bitterly divided 5–4 ruling, the Court upheld the constitutional abortion right it purported to discover in Roe.
  2. Second, the main opinion, among the most farcical in the Court’s history, was jointly crafted by Reagan appointees Kennedy and Sandra Day O’Connor, along with Bush 41 pick David Souter.
  3. Third, while paring Roe back in significant ways, the trio reaffirmed a potentially limitless “substantive due process” right to “liberty” in any matter as to which five unelected lawyers decide dignity and privacy warrant it.
.. the ruling’s demolition of Roe’s capricious trimester construct
.. Casey’s reaffirmation of Roe is highly qualified. It made clear that the state is free to adhere to a strongly pro-life policy even before “fetal viability.”
.. And viability is a dynamic concept, so as evolving technology made it possible to preserve and protect unborn life at earlier stages, states would have commensurate power to restrict or even outlaw abortion throughout more of pregnancy.
..  the national abortion debate should never have been moved to the federal courthouse for resolution, and pro-lifers cannot win it there in any event. It has to be won in the culture, from the ground up.
.. It has since moved on to gay rights (including same-sex marriage, endorsed in Justice Kennedy’s Obergefell opinion in 2015), and now we are on to LGBTQ rights, three-partner marriage (and why stop at three?), and who knows what other transgressive erosions of bourgeois culture.
.. What we need from judges is to remember that our law is a reflection of who we are, not a tool to shape us into something else. What we need from confirmation hearings is to ensure that we get judges of that kind.

This is the fight of our lives. Here’s how we win it.

Senators such as Donnelly, Heitkamp and Manchin need to argue to those who are ambivalent about abortion, or even against it, that right-wing judges would sanction a plutocratic government with little capacity to defend their interests.

.. “The Supreme Court, in case after case, is freely imposing its own view of sound public policy — not constitutional law, but public policy,” Biden told me at the time. “What is at issue here is a question of power, whether power will be exercised by an insulated judiciary or by the elected representatives of the people.”

..  Biden acknowledged that the phrase “judicial activism” has “often been used by conservatives to criticize liberal judges.” But “the shoe is plainly on the other foot: It is now conservative judges who are supplanting the judgment of the people’s representatives and substituting their own.”

“The existing Court’s assault on voting rights, collective bargaining and religious liberty is awful enough — just imagine how bad working people will have it if another right-wing justice joins the Court.” He warned of the court “taking a vicious, anti-worker, anti-women, anti-LGBT, anti-civil rights turn.”

.. The future of abortion rights is central to the coming battle. But so are civil rights, corporate power and our democratic capacity to correct social injustices. Conservatives should not be allowed to distract attention from the aspects of their agenda that would horrify even many who voted for Donald Trump.