Principle vs. Prudence
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on Friday immediately kickstarted a battle among conservative pundits and politicians over the prudence of pushing through a Supreme Court nominee before November 3. The first problem is that mail-in voting is already under way, meaning Republicans would technically be advancing a nominee during an election. Republicans have also been hypocrites about this in the past with their opposition to Merrick Garland’s hearing in 2016. Steve thinks we should push through a nominee, but David, Jonah, and Sarah are more sympathetic to arguments that Trump should nominate a justice and the Senate should wait to confirm until after the election, keeping in mind Democrats’ threats to throw out the filibuster, pack the court, and add Puerto Rico and D.C. to the union if Republicans have their way with Trump’s forthcoming nominee.
David and Jonah propose a deal: If Trump wins, the Senate confirms his nominee; if Biden wins, he agrees not to pack the court. Others argue that confirming a justice during an election year is just politics, meaning whichever party is in power gets to do whatever it wants. But what about principled conservatism? “My main critique of philosophical pragmatism is we are now talking about basically saying power decides every question of principle,” Jonah says on today’s podcast. This puts Republicans and conservatives in a bind, he argues, “particularly because for the last give or take 5,000 years, one of the jobs of conservatives has been to make a distinction between things you can do and things you should do.” Tune in for a conversation about the forthcoming attacks on Amy Coney Barrett’s Catholic faith should she be Trump’s nominee, the upcoming presidential debate next week, and the New York Times’ eagerness to rewrite its own history surrounding the 1619 Project.