EDITORIAL: Gardner and the GOP can walk the nation back by opposing Barrett’s nomination

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Judge Amy Coney Barrett, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, meets with Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. (Erin Scott/Pool via AP)

Republicans, including Colorado. Sen. Cory Gardner, can still step back from their scheme to weaponize the Supreme Court and brand themselves corrupt hypocrites.

For almost four years, most congressional Republicans have chiseled away at their own reputations and credibility by silently acquiescing to President Donald Trump’s profuse lying, his racism, his malfeasance, his authoritarianism and his absence of decency. Worse, many have outright defended and lauded Trump for his patent lack of character and honesty. 

About four years ago, Republicans in the Senate employed their right to push back against President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

Rather than hear the case for Garland in the Senate and reject it on its merits, they dishonestly said, including Gardner, that no president should be allowed to nominate a Supreme Court justice in the final year of his term. Gardner and Republicans in the Senate were unequivocal that voters should weigh in on late-term nominations via the presidential election. They insisted that the stakes are too high, because the high court increasingly was being used as a new tool for legislating, or de-legislating, issues failed in the Senate.

Whether the demand and philosophy have merit no longer matters. What matters is that Gardner and Republicans have reversed themselves. Now, just days from the growing likelihood of voters ending not only Trump’s tenure but that of Gardner and other complicit Republicans, they have a new demand. Now they insist all presidents are permitted and obligated to fill high-court vacancies, and the Senate is obligated to act on nominations.

The duplicity of their argument to rush through the appointment of Judge Amy Coney Barrett is raw and repugnant.

The deception further undermines a callow political party, so desperate to cling to power that it would resort to dishonesty and fraud. 

Even the remotely interested see that Republicans hope the court becomes a way to thwart vital rights of Americans. Republicans, for years, have been unable to successfully legislate banning a woman’s right to privacy. They seek justices who agree that the right to make decisions in regards to our own bodies is guaranteed only to men. Republicans seek justices who will ban the right to equality regardless of sexual orientation. They seek new justices who will ban the right of Congress to legislate insurance companies and the rights of states to ensure the voting rights of abused minorities.

Republicans, claiming to seek justices who are not “activists” on the bench, seek activists like Barrett to legislate with court rulings to achieve what they cannot accomplish in Congress.

And so they seek judges like Barrett and sitting Justices Neil Gorsuch, Bret Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas, who force the law, logic and the English language scream under contortions needed to insist that the right for state militias to possess muskets ensures everyone now can pack assault weapons for lunch. Yet these same justices insist that ratified amendments, enumerating the equality of all humans, not just those who are white and male, cannot draw far less extravagant lines to laws that treat women differently than men.

It’s unconscionable that Barrett tries to insist that she will give new, fresh eyes to questions that come before the court about women’s reproductive rights, the Affordable Care Act and the rights of minorities. Like Trump, her many former words and deeds spell out exactly who she is and exactly how she will rule on the Supreme Court.

She parrots Trump’s own dangerous propaganda about global warming being an unsettled controversy. She panders to the far right in the Senate, currently running the show there, by saying she was unaware that Trump regularly says he will only nominate Supreme Court justices who guarantee they will overturn a 60-year-old guarantee backing the reproductive rights of women.

There is no guessing, no dog-whistling in what Trump and Republicans are doing. Seeing their fate becoming clearer every day, as polls of voters make clear they will oust Trump and Republicans in the Senate, they seek to use the Supreme Court to cling to power.

The scheme has prompted talk among some Democrats on whether to counter the move by increasing the seats on the high court. Cries of foul by Gardner and other Republicans ring hollow against the catalogue of chicanery inflicted over the past several years, and especially the past several days.

While so much damage has been done to the American government and democracy by Trump and his complicit comrades during the past few years, going through with the Barrett installation will almost certainly be a tipping point in depravity that will beg a counter-reaction from Democrats.

This political apocalypse doesn’t have to happen. It’s nearly certain that voters will remove Gardner from office on Election Day. It’s equally probable that other Republican senators like him, who sold their political souls to Trump and party, will now pay for that pact with ouster by voters.

Rather than leave office, besmirched by this final political scheme, Gardner and other Republicans can step back from the ledge. They can end their terms on a note of honesty and righteousness. While such a move could never counter the damage Gardner and others have done to the nation by cowering to Trump’s edicts and vengeance, it would allow them to say they played a crucial part in preserving American democracy. They can leave office on a note of righteousness rather than shame.

Gardner and other Republicans must at this moment in American history do the right and honorable thing by rejecting Barrett’s nomination.