The Hill – Jonathan Turley:
Judicial confirmations tend to be staid affairs in the Senate, with rhetoric running from calm regret to restrained celebration. This week, however, the language had a more menacing tenor of a syndicate rather than a Senate. Richard Blumenthal warned of “consequences” if his colleagues dared to confirm in a reference to threats to change the Supreme Court. The message was clear to vote “no” or the Supreme Court gets it.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer went full Tony Montana with his “Scarface” version of “You wanna play rough? Say hello to my little friend.” Schumer threatened to use the expected slim Democratic majority to strip Republicans of their rights, which he declared “forfeited” by the confirmation.
Feeling disrespected, Democrats are threatening acts of retaliation in changing the Supreme Court or the Senate. But the most unhinged was the idea to impeach Amy Coney Barrett after she takes her seat. This option was raised by columnist Norman Ornstein, who wrote that if she “immediately votes for voter suppression” after rising to the Supreme Court, “she should quickly be impeached” because President Trump “asked her openly to act to tilt the scales of the election.”
It does not matter, apparently, that Barrett denied having such a conversation and that no one has an inkling of how she would vote on election challenges that have not even been filed. Ornstein is building on demands from various senators that Barrett promise to recuse herself from any election dispute. Others have demanded her recusal in pending cases like the challenge to the Affordable Care Act, to be heard Nov. 10. After Barrett declined to discuss her personal views on the environment, still others demanded recusal from any climate change-related cases … forever.
The Supreme Court has been asked to block an extension of mail-in balloting in Pennsylvania and, on Tuesday, one party demanded Barrett’s recusal from the case. The recusal demand is legally and logically absurd.
Justices are largely their own judges on recusal. While Blumenthal demanded in Barrett’s confirmation hearing that “you must recuse yourself,” doing so would raise countervailing concerns of impropriety and political influence. Democrats were demanding that she remove herself without any cognizable basis for recusal. Now, they’re trying to muscle her out with a “recuse or be impeached” ultimatum.
The election recusal claim is transparently opportunistic. It also is the flipping of the narrative. During the confirmation hearing and Senate floor arguments, Democrats repeatedly accused Barrett of being nominated for the purpose of striking down the ACA, which is clearly false and implausible.