The Republican Insurgency Against the Judicial Branch

(Photo: Stephen Melkisethian)(Photo: Stephen Melkisethian)

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Our country is in the midst of a full-blown “politically-motivated” judicial crisis.

That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Alliance for Justice, a watchdog group located in Washington, DC.

The group looked at the number of federal judges confirmed since Republicans took over the Senate in January, and what it found was shocking.

See more news and opinion from Thom Hartmann at Truthout here.

So far this year, the Republican-controlled Senate has confirmed just six federal judges, the fewest it’s confirmed in the first eight months of a year since 1953.

We’ve never seen anything like this before in our history, or at least not in our recent history.

As of today, President Obama is on pace to have fewer judicial confirmations over the final two years of his presidency than any president since World War II.

Even the Democratic-controlled Senate during the final years of the George W. Bush administration got its act together, did its constitutional duty and approved 68 judges.

Today’s Republicans, though, could care less about doing their constitutional duty – they just hate President Obama.

Even though Chief Justice John Roberts warned three years ago that we were heading towards a major judicial crisis if something weren’t done soon about the rising number of judicial vacancies, they’ve gone ahead and delayed votes, put off hearings and done pretty much everything in their power to stop the senate from voting on Obama’s nominees.

This, of course, comes as the number of federal judicial vacancies has jumped from 43 to 67 and the number of federal judicial emergencies has jumped from 12 to 31.

Apparently having a functioning court system isn’t on the top of Republican priorities.

And here’s the thing: It’s not like the nominees President Obama has put forward are unqualified or super liberal – they’re not.

Every time one of their nominations has been put to vote, they’ve been confirmed unanimously.

What’s really going on here is another example of the “Caucus Room Conspiracy,” the plot Republicans hatched on the day President Obama took office to prevent him, our nation’s first Black President, from building up any legacy what-so-ever.

On January 20, 2009, the night when the Obamas were dancing at inaugural balls and most Americans were out celebrating the end of the Bush years, a group of powerful Republicans was planning the end of Obama presidency before it even got going.

At the Caucus Room restaurant in Washington, DC, GOP leaders drew up a plan to intentionally sabotage President Obama at every point possible.

On the guest list for this “invitation only” meeting were Republican Senators like Jim DeMint, Jon Kyl, Tom Coburn, John Ensign and Bob Corker.

Also in attendance were Congressmen Paul Ryan, Pete Sessions, Jeb Hensarling, Pete Hoekstra, Dan Lungren, Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy.

The whole thing was orchestrated by Republican propaganda mastermind Frank Luntz and over the course of four hours, this group of the most powerful conservative lawmakers in the country committed to a plan of action.

They promised each other that they would filibuster and obstruct any and all legislation supported by the new president, Barack Obama.

They would do everything possible, for as long as it took, to make his a “failed presidency.”

Congressman Pete Sessions of Texas compared the plan to the tactics of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

He said, “Insurgency, we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban. And that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person’s entire processes… And we need to understand that insurgency may be required when the other side, the House leadership, does not follow the same commands, which we entered the game with.”

The current crisis in the federal judiciary is just another front in this Republican insurgency campaign.

It’s the political version of guerrilla warfare.

And the really scary thing is that it’s not just about sabotage.

Screwing over President Obama is great as far as Republicans are concerned, but it’s really more of a means to an end: the total takeover of the federal judiciary.

Ever since the Powell Memo in 1972, corporatist conservatives have made hijacking our nation’s courts one of their top priorities.

They’ve done a pretty good job at it, too. The far-right Federalist Society, for example, now dominates our court system and our Supreme Court.

But if Republicans can successfully keep their manufactured judicial crisis going until President Obama leaves office in 2017, that’ll be the real Republican victory.

That’s because if they manage to both hold on to the Senate in 2016 and win the White House, they’ll have free reign to fill up our courts with as many hard-right corporate- and billionaire-friendly judges as they want.

If that happens, you can kiss labor laws, environmental laws and maybe even universal health care good bye.

The stakes really are that high, which is why Democrats need to start fighting back against the Republican insurgency with everything they have.

Like guerrilla armies throughout history, today’s Republicans are successful because they break all the rules of the game and have a clear endgame.

The only way Democrats can beat them is to have a clear endgame themselves and fight tooth and nail to achieve it.

The future is at stake, and right now the Republicans in Congress are trying to strangle it.