E.J. Dionne has reached new lows in hypocrisy with his screed against confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch, a jurist who was confirmed to the federal bench in 2006 in a unanimous bipartisan voice vote in the Senate. Dionne laments Gorsuch's threat to "Merrick Garland's Supreme Court seat" as an "appalling act of extreme partisanship" by the Senate.
What's so laughable about Dionne's unhinged ire is the notion that the Senate was obliged to give Garland a hearing at all, much less the implication that he would have been confirmed by a Republican majority Senate had he been. As Obama said in 2009, "elections have consequences," and one of those consequences is that the Senate gets to advise and consent to a president's Supreme Court nominees. And the Senate democratically advised the former president that his nominee was unsuitable and it refused to consent to giving him a seat on the bench.
In excoriating Republicans for looking to their interests Dionne breathlessly accuses the Supreme Court of being the political tool of the right that has "undone a century's worth of legislation" with the Citizens United decision.
What he doesn't say is that the overturned legislation was the product of a century's worth of leftist progressivism that had unconstitutionally silenced people who had banded together to petition their government for redress of grievances precisely in order to influence politics in their favor, as is their right.
That's called "political freedom of speech," something that neither Dionne nor other leftists want anyone to engage in unless the "big money" involved supports their ideology. Then it doesn't bother them at all.
And that's why Dionne is wrath personified. It's his ox that's being gored. His hypocritical rhetoric plumbs the seventh level of Dante's hell in his desperation to malign and impugn anybody and everybody who understands that elections do indeed have consequences.
His ongoing hyperbole hints at the end of all things and that a seven-headed hydra combining Hitler, Mussolini, Pinochet, Hussein, Franco, Suharto and Attila the Hun will rise with Donald Trump as president. Now he's spewing this perfidious propaganda with respect to one of the most qualified jurists ever to stand for nomination to our highest court merely because Gorsuch is a constitutional originalist like his predecessor Antonin Scalia.
Dionne says of Gorsuch's nomination that Republicans "count on control of the Supreme Court to get results they could never achieve through the democratically elected branches of government."
Wait . what? You mean like the control exerted by Democrat Franklin Roosevelt, who in 1937 tried to expand the Supreme Court to 15 members in a notorious court-packing scheme intended as payback for the Court overturning several of his meddlesome and unconstitutional New Deal plots?
Saying that a decline in "mental or physical vigor leads men to avoid an examination of complicated and changed conditions ... older men, assuming that the scene is the same as it was in the past, cease to explore or inquire into the present or the future," FDR and the Democrats tried to rid the court of the elderly "Four Horsemen" who staunchly opposed progressive legislative excesses. Combined with cuts to Supreme Court salaries and pensions and the inherent threat to the independence of the judiciary posed by the packing plot, he managed to persuade two Justices to defect, resulting in a swing toward big-government progressivism.
Given control of the Congress and the White House either party will inevitably attempt to "pack" the Supreme Court with Justices sympathetic to the majority party's ideology. That's nothing new and it's been happening since the very beginning of this nation, with the Court being a more ponderous pendulum than either Congress or the presidency due to its lifetime appointments. But this is exactly how it is intended to operate by those who concocted our Republic and its system of checks and balances.
Pendulums swing as pendulums do and elections have consequences, but the gravity of the Supreme Court helps to limit the breadth of the swings and Judge Neil Gorsuch will be but one of nine Justices who protect our rights against the whims and caprices of popular opinion, be it opinions from the left or right.
Scott Weiser is a freelance journalist based in Colorado.