Scalia’s Replacement and the Thurmond Rule The Thurmond Rule:   Definition: An unwritten rule of the Senate. No president should make a lifetime appointment to the judiciary in his last six months in office.     Reality: Strom Thurmond was a racist pig dog, who when he was not raping his family’s sixteen year old black maid, never met an African-American he did not think looked better swinging by a rope from a tree.  He was so outraged by President Harry Truman’s desegregation of the military that he ran for president as a Dixiecrat and actually won four states in 1948. The longest filibuster in the history of The United States Senate was not over some Mr. Smith Goes To Washington noble cause, but rather Thurmond trying to block the 1957 Civil Rights Act. He was so troubled by Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 Civil Rights Act that he switched parties to become a Republican. This racist stain of a human being finally died in office at 100, the oldest serving Senator in U.S. history.  Hopefully he discovered that God was a giant black man that looked like Shaft if he somehow got to heaven.     The Thurmond Rule was created in 1968. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy had been killed and it looked like the whole country was coming apart. Richard Nixon, through the “southern strategy” sought to divide people along racial lines in order to win the presidency. (For you young’ins out there, Ted Cruz is the Hanna-Barbera cartoon version of Nixon, just with a lot more Jesus and less five o’clock shadow.) Much like how Donald Trump used fear of Mexican immigrants and Muslims under every bed to prey on voters’ fears today, the Republicans were using the fear of Black Power, hippies, communists, radical domestic terrorist groups and an African-American in every white daughters’ bed to scare middle class America. I guess the more things change the more they stay the same.    Nixon’s biggest cheerleader was Strom Thurmond, who played powerbroker at the 1968 GOP convention by holding the south for Nixon in the face of a late insurgent run by future president Ronald Reagan and making sure liberals Charles Percy or Mark Hatfield were not considered for the vice-presidency.   Thurmond hated the Earl Warren led Supreme Court, in particular Justice Abe Fortas, because they had repeatedly ruled time after time that segregation was not lawful. Fortas, on the bench, was a forceful advocate for criminals’ rights, children’s rights and the rights of minorities. (For Iowans, Justice Fortas wrote the decision for Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, which stated that three students had the right to wear black armbands in protest of the Vietnam War. It was the first time the First Amendment was extended to schoolchildren.) So, we have a powerful racist politician who wants to make America great again, excuse me, segregated again, and a liberal judge, what could possibly go wrong with that?   With President Johnson deciding not to run again, Robert Kennedy’s assassination and the Democrats drowning in the presidential race due to their own incompetence, Chief Justice Earl Warren decided to retire, fearing a Nixon presidency and the kind of jurist that Tricky Dick would replace him with. Johnson decided to nominate his close friend and advisor, Fortas, to become Chief Justice.  Boom goes the dynamite. Not only was Johnson going to get a chance to name another one of those “[African-American] loving judges,” but Strom was going to make Fortas pay for all of Johnson’s socialist ways by denying his candidate the position of top man on the court. Earl Warren was forced to stay on the bench for another year until newly elected Richard Nixon appointed Warren Burger to replace him.    When Republicans talk about the unwritten Thurmond Rule like it was handed down with the Ten Commandments, it is best to understand what the Thurmond Rule really was. It only exists because an old racist was so angry at the thought of African-Americans being treated with respect and dignity under the law. Instead of accepting that his Gone With The Wind world was gone and that Tara was not going to be rebuilt, Strom pouted and got his way. This is not a thin fig leaf of protection I would want to use to deny a president his right to name a replacement, especially because it shines a light on other parts and attitudes you would not want others to see. In other words, your racist/sexist/homophobic twig and berries might be hanging out.   A lot has changed since Lyndon Johnson nominated Abe Fortas in 1968 and shockingly a lot of the social issues remain the same, but one of the things that has changed is that newly nominated individuals for the Supreme Court used to be slam dunks, but not anymore.  Whether a Senator liked or disliked a candidate’s judicial philosophy mattered little in the past. What was important was whether the person is qualified and not a nut job. In a sense, the Senate’s job was basically paper pushing.    Elena Kagan, President Obama’s last Supreme Court nominee, only received five Republican votes, even though she was extremely well qualified. What used to be boring hearings have turned into Kabuki theater and gamesmanship.  All of this modern hostility dates back to the Reagan administration and the growing power of special interests. When one looks at whom to blame, it quickly spirals into a chicken or egg type of debate. Basically our Senators have become like five-year-olds fighting over who touched who first and want to take their ball and go home if they don’t win. (Obama was just as guilty when he was in the Senate.)   Washington is broken because the American people keep sending broken toys in the form of politicians to Washington. Nobody wants it fixed. They just want their way. What is best for the country has been replaced by what is best for one’s party or one’s special interest group.   I was shocked when I heard the news that Antonin Scalia had died. I guess I figured Dick Cheney and him would live forever being comprised mostly of mechanical parts in some fall out shelter in Montana, surfacing from time to time to make some outrageous statement. I knew his death would result in blood on the streets of Washington.     I believe that allowing President Obama to nominate a replacement justice is a golden opportunity for the Republican Party and, more importantly, for the country.  Hear me out. Oh, I think GOP Senators should negotiate behind the scenes to get a moderate candidate they can swallow. It would not be politics without a little horse- trading.      With or without naming the replacement for Scalia, the next president will probably get at least two bites at the Supreme Court apple with replacements for Ruth Bader Ginsburg (83), Anthony Kennedy (79), and possibly Stephen Breyer (77). With a Republican president, at worst, it would return to a 5-4 court. (Is it me or does Ginsburg seem to get smaller and smaller every day? Is she secretly the superhero The Atom?   More importantly for the Republicans, the Senate is at stake in the next election and the numbers don’t look good for them. With the Republican Party in jeopardy of losing their majority, as much as a moderate Obama appointing a moderate justice keeps the GOP up at nights, imagine the nightmares around a Hillary Clinton or socialist Bernie Sanders having their candidate pass through a Democratic controlled Senate. It is a huge gamble on the GOP’s side. I hate to say this, but I smell a little Strom Thurmond musk in their efforts.   Some year, the shoe is going to be on the other foot. At some point in his or her final year, a conservative president is going to find himself or herself with a liberal Senate wanting to appoint a justice in his last year in office or in an election year.   The American people claim they are tired of a broken Congress, of the silly fighting with nothing getting done. This is a golden opportunity to prove it wrong. A Republican Senate could prove that they are the party of adults, tell the American people that enough is enough, and that we need to return to a time when Supreme Court nomination hearings were boring. We do not need stealth candidates talking in code in order to sneak through a Senate who is looking to see if they farted in church once to vote against them.  As the party of adults, they would let the American people know that they hope the Democrats follow suit in the future and to punish them if they don’t.   I honestly believe the American people would reward them with probable control of the Senate and a possible White House victory. At some point, the American people need to demand our politicians grow up, even if we like them. To me, it is a better gamble for the GOP than hoping that the next president is not a Democrat or named Trump, who would probably appoint one of the keno girls in one of his casinos to the position.   More importantly, it is right for the country and that is all that matters in the end.
Scalia’s Replacement and the Thurmond Rule The Thurmond Rule:   Definition: An unwritten rule of the Senate. No president should make a lifetime appointment to the judiciary in his last six months in office.     Reality: Strom Thurmond was a racist pig dog, who when he was not raping his family’s sixteen year old black maid, never met an African-American he did not think looked better swinging by a rope from a tree.  He was so outraged by President Harry Truman’s desegregation of the military that he ran for president as a Dixiecrat and actually won four states in 1948. The longest filibuster in the history of The United States Senate was not over some Mr. Smith Goes To Washington  noble cause, but rather Thurmond trying to block the 1957 Civil Rights Act. He was so troubled by Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 Civil Rights Act that he switched parties to become a Republican. This racist stain of a human being finally died in office at 100, the oldest serving Senator in U.S. history.  Hopefully he discovered that God was a giant black man that looked like Shaft if he somehow got to heaven.     The Thurmond Rule was created in 1968. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy had been killed and it looked like the whole country was coming apart. Richard Nixon, through the “southern strategy” sought to divide people along racial lines in order to win the presidency. (For you young’ins out there, Ted Cruz is the Hanna-Barbera cartoon version of Nixon, just with a lot more Jesus and less five o’clock shadow.) Much like how Donald Trump used fear of Mexican immigrants and Muslims under every bed to prey on voters’ fears today, the Republicans were using the fear of Black Power, hippies, communists, radical domestic terrorist groups and an African-American in every white daughters’ bed to scare middle class America. I guess the more things change the more they stay the same.    Nixon’s biggest cheerleader was Strom Thurmond, who played powerbroker at the 1968 GOP convention by holding the south for Nixon in the face of a late insurgent run by future president Ronald Reagan and making sure liberals Charles Percy or Mark Hatfield were not considered for the vice-presidency.   Thurmond hated the Earl Warren led Supreme Court, in particular Justice Abe Fortas, because they had repeatedly ruled time after time that segregation was not lawful. Fortas, on the bench, was a forceful advocate for criminals’ rights, children’s rights and the rights of minorities. (For Iowans, Justice Fortas wrote the decision for Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, which stated that three students had the right to wear black armbands in protest of the Vietnam War. It was the first time the First Amendment was extended to schoolchildren.) So, we have a powerful racist politician who wants to make America great again, excuse me, segregated again, and a liberal judge, what could possibly go wrong with that?   With President Johnson deciding not to run again, Robert Kennedy’s assassination and the Democrats drowning in the presidential race due to their own incompetence, Chief Justice Earl Warren decided to retire, fearing a Nixon presidency and the kind of jurist that Tricky Dick would replace him with. Johnson decided to nominate his close friend and advisor, Fortas, to become Chief Justice.  Boom goes the dynamite. Not only was Johnson going to get a chance to name another one of those “[African-American] loving judges,” but Strom was going to make Fortas pay for all of Johnson’s socialist ways by denying his candidate the position of top man on the court. Earl Warren was forced to stay on the bench for another year until newly elected Richard Nixon appointed Warren Burger to replace him.    When Republicans talk about the unwritten Thurmond Rule like it was handed down with the Ten Commandments, it is best to understand what the Thurmond Rule really was. It only exists because an old racist was so angry at the thought of African-Americans being treated with respect and dignity under the law. Instead of accepting that his Gone With The Wind world was gone and that Tara was not going to be rebuilt, Strom pouted and got his way. This is not a thin fig leaf of protection I would want to use to deny a president his right to name a replacement, especially because it shines a light on other parts and attitudes you would not want others to see. In other words, your racist/sexist/homophobic twig and berries might be hanging out.   A lot has changed since Lyndon Johnson nominated Abe Fortas in 1968 and shockingly a lot of the social issues remain the same, but one of the things that has changed is that newly nominated individuals for the Supreme Court used to be slam dunks, but not anymore.  Whether a Senator liked or disliked a candidate’s judicial philosophy mattered little in the past. What was important was whether the person is qualified and not a nut job. In a sense, the Senate’s job was basically paper pushing.    Elena Kagan, President Obama’s last Supreme Court nominee, only received five Republican votes, even though she was extremely well qualified. What used to be boring hearings have turned into Kabuki theater and gamesmanship.  All of this modern hostility dates back to the Reagan administration and the growing power of special interests. When one looks at whom to blame, it quickly spirals into a chicken or egg type of debate. Basically our Senators have become like five-year-olds fighting over who touched who first and want to take their ball and go home if they don’t win. (Obama was just as guilty when he was in the Senate.)   Washington is broken because the American people keep sending broken toys in the form of politicians to Washington. Nobody wants it fixed. They just want their way. What is best for the country has been replaced by what is best for one’s party or one’s special interest group.   I was shocked when I heard the news that Antonin Scalia had died. I guess I figured Dick Cheney and him would live forever being comprised mostly of mechanical parts in some fall out shelter in Montana, surfacing from time to time to make some outrageous statement. I knew his death would result in blood on the streets of Washington.     I believe that allowing President Obama to nominate a replacement justice is a golden opportunity for the Republican Party and, more importantly, for the country.  Hear me out. Oh, I think GOP Senators should negotiate behind the scenes to get a moderate candidate they can swallow. It would not be politics without a little horse-trading.      With or without naming the replacement for Scalia, the next president will probably get at least two bites at the Supreme Court apple with replacements for Ruth Bader Ginsburg (83), Anthony Kennedy (79), and possibly Stephen Breyer (77). With a Republican president, at worst, it would return to a 5-4 court. (Is it me or does Ginsburg seem to get smaller and smaller every day? Is she secretly the superhero The Atom?   More importantly for the Republicans, the Senate is at stake in the next election and the numbers don’t look good for them. With the Republican Party in jeopardy of losing their majority, as much as a moderate Obama appointing a moderate justice keeps the GOP up at nights, imagine the nightmares around a Hillary Clinton or socialist Bernie Sanders having their candidate pass through a Democratic controlled Senate. It is a huge gamble on the GOP’s side. I hate to say this, but I smell a little Strom Thurmond musk in their efforts.   Some year, the shoe is going to be on the other foot. At some point in his or her final year, a conservative president is going to find himself or herself with a liberal Senate wanting to appoint a justice in his last year in office or in an election year.   The American people claim they are tired of a broken Congress, of the silly fighting with nothing getting done. This is a golden opportunity to prove it wrong. A Republican Senate could prove that they are the party of adults, tell the American people that enough is enough, and that we need to return to a time when Supreme Court nomination hearings were boring. We do not need stealth candidates talking in code in order to sneak through a Senate who is looking to see if they farted in church once to vote against them.  As the party of adults, they would let the American people know that they hope the Democrats follow suit in the future and to punish them if they don’t.   I honestly believe the American people would reward them with probable control of the Senate and a possible White House victory. At some point, the American people need to demand our politicians grow up, even if we like them. To me, it is a better gamble for the GOP than hoping that the next president is not a Democrat or named Trump, who would probably appoint one of the keno girls in one of his casinos to the position.   More importantly, it is right for the country and that is all that matters in the end.