By the end of June 2018, Congress had confirmed 42 Trump appointees to our federal courts, including one Supreme Court Justice. That SCOTUS position came open during Obama’s term, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to consider Obama’s nominee. With Justice Kennedy stepping down, Trump will now attempt to place a second judge on the Supreme Court.
These are the Russian Judges, lifetime appointees to the federal judiciary whose positions were secured through fraud and enemy interference. Their appointments are illegitimate, which means their day to day activities lack force of law. If we are, as we claim to be, a nation of laws, then the Russian Judges have to go.
When the traitors have been removed and a legitimate government established, the Russian Judges should be asked by the new President to resign. Many of them are ordinary figures. At the President’s discretion, their names could be resubmitted for appointment. Those who refuse to resign should be impeached. Failing impeachment, the new executive branch should seek their re-assignment, or re-organize the courts in ways that leave those judges isolated from hearing important cases.
Is any of this likely to happen? Who cares. That’s not the point.
I spent my life in the Republican Party. At the grassroots level, especially in the South, this is how politics is played on the right. Yes, professor, this policy proposal is impractical. It contains elements that might undermine the independence of the judiciary. And of course, if these methods were attempted by my political opponents I would oppose them on legal grounds. This works. If you want to preserve your country, learn how to do politics.
Take a story, with winners and losers and a villain, like Russian interference in our elections. Distill that story into an image or a phrase, like Russian Judges. Then use it like a hammer. These metaphorical weapons are most powerful when they operate like a wedge, undermining your opponent’s messaging by creating dissonance. This image of the “America First” president, who rode into office on waves of white xenophobic terror, posing with scary mooslims, is a gift Democrats don’t know how to use.
Republicans know how to activate their voters. When Chief Justice John Roberts, in a supremely conservative opinion, upheld most elements of the Affordable Care Act, conservatives called him a traitor. Ted Cruz responded by attacking the legitimacy of Supreme Court rulings. On the campaign trail he promised to impose blatantly unconstitutional tests on future judges to prevent such independent thought in the future.
The result? Fox News viewers may not care about civics, but they know who to vote for and they show up to the polls. The right maintains their tenuous grip on power despite inferior numbers because they understand how to define an enemy.
Every story needs a villain, and conservatives never fail to invent one. Even with the most atrocious nominee in our history, they showed up to place him in the White House. While they backed a man who was forced to pay a multi-million dollar fraud settlement during the campaign, they remained laser-focused on the invisible, invented crimes of Hillary Clinton. Complain all you want, but you have to admire their commitment to a narrative.
Most of our modern civic order, premised on individual rights and civil liberties, was shaped by our federal courts in the second half of the 20th century. Conservatives understand this, and have been on a decades-long campaign to destroy the judiciary. They are willing to elect a mob boss and collaborate with an enemy intelligence service for a shadow of a shot at dismantling our civil rights. The Russian Judges are likely to be the most enduring loot from their crimes. We will not repair the damage from this regime until the Russian Judges have been neutered.
Capital letters. A memorable smear. Fact paired with parody is a powerful acid…Russian Judges.
Take “the high road” and keep losing or learn what works and win. When they go low, make them pay.
A new, legitimate government should promise to neutralize the Russian Judges planted in the heart of our system by our enemies. Use the term over and over, until it’s so common that shows up in pleadings in their courts. Never let these appointees escape the reach of that phrase and never let the collaborators who placed them in power escape the stain of their actions.