Today’s headlines show a Trump presidency is now more likely, and that a President Trump has told Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel he will be nominated to the United States Supreme Court. Thiel has some anti-democratic views, especially about the role of women. According to HuffPo:
In a 2009 essay, Thiel wrote: “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.” Part of the reason for that incompatibility, Thiel argued, was that women had gained the right to vote and that the government sometimes helps poor people.
“Since 1920,” he wrote, “the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron.” (He later clarified his comments, saying he didn’t want to disenfranchise anyone.
Now, it is far from certain Trump will be elected President, and it seems unlikely that a President Trump would nominate Thiel, who would face stiff resistance even from some Republicans in Congress (in part because of his libertarian views and sexual orientation).
But let’s not miss the big point here.
If Trump is elected President, and Republicans hold a narrow majority in the Senate, Republicans will get rid of the filibuster if necessary in order to get the Republicans’ choices for the Supreme Court on the Court—potentially solidifying a conservative bloc on the Supreme Court for the next generation.
And we can expect the same from Democrats: If Clinton is elected President and Democrats hold a narrow majority in the Senate, Democrats will get rid of the filibuster if necessary in order to get Democrats’ choices for the Supreme Court on the Court—potentially solidifying a liberal bloc on the Supreme Court for the next generation.
In short, as soon as either party needs the filibuster to get someone on the Court, they will.
And the stakes could not be higher. As I explained at TPM about a year ago:
The future composition of the Supreme Court is the most important civil rights cause of our time. It is more important than racial justice, marriage equality, voting rights, money in politics, abortion rights, gun rights, or managing climate change. It matters more because the ability to move forward in these other civil rights struggles depends first and foremost upon control of the Court. And control for the next generation is about to be up for grabs, likely in the next presidential election, a point many on the right but few on the left seem to have recognized.