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The Neoconfederates Are Coming!

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This will probably not be surprising for you unless you were paid to write bad columns for Salon in 2016, but Trump’s judicial nominees are pretty much uniformly ghastly:

The president seems to recognize as much, and so at the same time that he ridicules the judiciary for thwarting his proposals, he is working to reshape it. So far, he has named 16 nominees to the federal district and circuit courts—a group pulled almost entirely from the membership rolls of the conservative Federalist Society. On Wednesday, three of those nominees will appear before the U.S. Senate: Kevin Newsom, an 11th Circuit nominee from Alabama; John Bush, a 6th Circuit nominee from Kentucky; and Damien Schiff, a nominee for the federal Court of Claims. Together, they evince a deep hostility toward civil rights.

In 2000, Newsom wrote a law review article in which he equated the rationale of Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that affirmed abortion rights, to Dred Scott, the infamous 1857 decision upholding slavery. As Alabama’s solicitor general, he spent much of his time defending the state’s ability to execute people, and in 2005, he expressed regret at the Supreme Court’s ruling that it is unconstitutional to execute juveniles. He also defended, both in court and the press, Alabama’s policy, nearly unique among the states, to not provide legal counsel to death-row prisoners seeking post-conviction relief. When prisoners challenged the policy, Newsom ridiculed them for painting a “gloom and doom” picture of accessing legal services on death row.

Bush is shocking in his blatant disdain for equal rights and animus toward racial and other minorities. While blogging under a pseudonym in 2008, Bush invoked Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to attack women’s reproductive rights. In a post titled “The Legacy from Dr. King’s Dream That Liberals Ignore,” Bush joined Newsom in comparing Dred Scott to Roe (both “relied on similar reasoning and activist justices”), and wrote that “slavery and abortion” are the “two greatest tragedies in our country.” In his Senate questionnaire, he dismissively referred to the brutal 1993 beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers as a “police encounter.” In another blog post, he brushed aside the discriminatory effects of voter ID laws. Bush has also said that a landmark Supreme Court ruling protecting the freedom of the press was wrongly decided, a view disturbingly convenient for a president who incessantly attacks the media. Perhaps most troubling about Bush, though, is what he hasn’t voiced: In forms filed with the U.S. Senate, Bush failed to disclose—as required by Senate Judiciary Committee rules—that a Louisville social club to which he belongs had a long history of excluding African-Americans, women and Jews.

Of the three nominees, Schiff may be the most extreme. He has already received attention for calling Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy a “judicial prostitute”; said he “strongly disagree[s]” with the Supreme Court’s decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down statutes criminalizing sodomy; and criticized a school district for teaching that “homosexual families are the moral equivalent of heterosexual families,” arguing that it remains an open question. Shockingly, in May 2009, Schiff wrote that, for the same reason, he would have objected “to an anti-racism curriculum being taught in 1950s Arkansas.” Not to be outdone, Schiff provided his own take on Dred Scott—saying that the court’s dead-letter affirmation of slavery is no different from efforts to remedy segregation and increase diversity. In a 2011 law review article, Schiff said that Grutter v. Bollinger, which upheld race-conscious college admissions programs to further student diversity, repeated the same mistakes of the Supreme Court’s most infamous decisions, including Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, and Korematsu.

As always, the two key takeaways here are that 1)elections should primarily be seen in exercises in atomistic self-gratification and 2)Both Sides Do It but Democrats Are More Neoliberal.

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