Should Democrats Go to the Mattresses Over the Supreme Court?

Evan Golub via ZUMA

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

I’m in a quandary. Last night I suggested that Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the Supreme Court would energize progressives and produce a huge turnout in the November midterms. My thinking behind this was:

  • On the conservative side, the replacement would already be in place by Election Day, so it wouldn’t have any special effect on Republican turnout.
  • On the progressive side, Kennedy’s replacement would put Roe v. Wade in such obvious danger that Democrats would flock to the polls.

Obviously I could be wrong about either of these things, but put that aside for now. It turns out that the controversy of the moment among progressives is whether Democrats should put up a titanic fight to prevent a replacement from being confirmed. My assumption had been that Dems would fight, but mostly pro forma since they have no feasible way of stopping Republicans. They could try to persuade a couple of centrist Republicans to vote against anyone who might overturn Roe, but that’s pretty unlikely—and the other ideas I’ve heard go downhill from there. Republicans are going to win this fight, and the Democratic leadership knows it.

Like I said, that was my assumption behind all this. But what if Democrats do go to the mattresses? Block the doorways, disrupt quorum calls, put gum in all the locks and sugar in the gas tanks. Whatever. If that’s the case, then it becomes an all-out war and conservatives will be at least as energized as progressives. Maybe more so. That means a pro forma fight is probably the best bet.

On the other hand, the midterms are all about the Resistance. They’re all about the fight, showing a spine, and turning out the base. Wouldn’t a pro forma fight deflate all that? If Dems don’t blow up a few things, the base might get disgusted and just stay home. That means we need to declare war.

This alternative hadn’t really occurred to me. Rationally, a pro forma fight is almost certainly the best bet. But politics isn’t about rationality. It’s about inspiring your own side and deflating the other side. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a single strategy which accomplishes that here. Any ideas?

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate