Democrats have been increasingly concerned about the Supreme Court ever since Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016 and Sen. Mitch McConnell blocked President Barack Obama’s nominee to the high court. It’s not a problem that will be solved simply by a Democrat winning the White House, either.
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee suggested two paths forward on dealing with obstructionist Republicans both on the Supreme Court and climate issues during his meet-and-greet in Tower Park late last week.
“Two things: elect a few more Democrats,” Inslee began with. “Because we now have understood the consequences of the right-wingers taking over the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court a day or two opened the door and left the door open to horrendous partisan gerrymandering. In what kind of world should we allow the politicians to pick their voters instead of allowing the voters to pick their representatives? That was a horrendous mistake by the US Supreme Court … We know women are still under the shadow of losing their right of choice. So we understand the danger of this.”
Inslee’s other solution to break the logjam on legislative progress was to target the filibuster.
“We also have to take away from Mitch McConnell a weapon that’s used by him to chain us to the last century,” Inslee said. “You can’t give a weapon that’s not in the Constitution, not enshrined in American history, which would allow him to prevent progress in the United States … Look, we’re not going to be able to be able to pas a climate change bill if he still has the filibuster. He’s vowed repeatedly to never challenge the fossil fuel industry. He always wants us to be under the thumb of the CEOs of the fossil fuel industry to keep us addicted to oil and gas and coal.”
In the Senate, those who disagree with a piece of legislation have the ability to filibuster, or hold the floor so the Senate can’t take a vote. In order to continue on a vote, despite the filibuster, 60 senators have to vote.
Sen. McConnell has repeatedly blocked bills passed by the Democratic House from getting to the Senate floor. These bills have concerned everything from gun control to protecting people with pre-existing conditions.
Many progressives argue that the filibuster stands in the way of important legislation, and would mean that a Democratic president wouldn’t be able to get bills through a hostile Senate or even one with less than 60 Democrats. Supporters argue that the filibuster is a way to ensure that the minority voice has a chance of being heard, a chance that doesn’t exist in the House of Representatives.
“I am not afraid of democracy, and I don’t think we should be afraid of voters,” Inslee replied to the concern that it would also give Republicans more power when they’re in full control. “The Democratic Party ought to believe in democracy. Democracy means people vote and votes are counted and the majority wills follow. That’s simply what it should be in the United States. And for those small-minded Democrats who don’t agree with me, they’re going to remain wedded in the past, we are never going to break the lock of fossil fuels, we’re never going to have a new public health option like I passed in Washington state, we’re never going to have a reproductive parity act, like I’ve passed, which will protect women’s access to insurance for their reproductive health.”
by Nikoel Hytrek
Photo by Julie Fleming