Press: Democrats must hang tough on high court pick

Press: Democrats must hang tough on high court pick
© Getty

A dangerous myth has infiltrated American politics. We hear it whenever the issue of Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMeghan McCain: Democrats 'should give a little credit' to Trump for COVID-19 vaccine Trump testing czar warns lockdowns may be on table if people don't get vaccinated Overnight Health Care: CDC details Massachusetts outbreak that sparked mask update | White House says national vaccine mandate 'not under consideration at this time' MORE’s latest appointment to the Supreme Court is raised.

It goes like this: Senate Democrats up for reelection from red states this year have no choice. They MUST vote for Donald Trump’s nominee for Supreme Court, or else they will lose their bid for reelection. Whether or not they continue to serve in the Senate all depends on how they vote on the court.

Nonsense! There is no political data — none! — to support that premise, which was probably cooked up by some Republican consultant to scare the hell out of Democrats. I defy anyone to come up with one example of a senator who’s lost his or her seat because of how they voted on a Supreme Court nominee. The argument they’d automatically do so is pure bunk.

ADVERTISEMENT

But, so far, it seems to be working. No sooner had Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the bench than many Democrats simply threw in the towel, saying there was no way they could stop Trump. Why? Because at least five Democrats running in red states — West Virginia’s Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSunday shows preview: Delta concerns prompt CDC mask update; bipartisan infrastructure bill to face challenges in Senate Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire Top Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure MORE, Indiana’s Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellySupreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda Republicans fret over divisive candidates Everybody wants Joe Manchin MORE, Missouri’s Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillGiuliani to stump for Greitens in Missouri McCaskill shares new July 4 family tradition: Watching Capitol riot video Joe Manchin's secret MORE, Montana’s Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocrats say they have the votes to advance .5T budget measure The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal MORE and North Dakota’s Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampJoe Manchin's secret Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda Effective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests MORE — have no choice but to vote for Trump’s nominee.

Again, wrong, wrong, wrong. Consider the math. It’s an uphill battle, to be sure, but by no means impossible for Democrats to block Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. The current Senate line-up is 51 Republicans and, in effect, 49 Democrats (counting Independent Sens. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet Angst grips America's most liberal city Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire MORE (Vt.) and Angus KingAngus KingNew Senate bill would hurt charities and those they serve Overnight Health Care: CDC advises vaccinated to wear masks in high-risk areas | Biden admin considering vaccine mandate for federal workers Four senators call on Becerra to back importation of prescription drugs from Canada MORE (Maine)). But, with Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain to produce 'Don't Sweat the Small Stuff' Lifetime movie starring Heather Locklear An August ultimatum: No recess until redistricting reform is done Meghan McCain on Pelosi, McCarthy fight: 'I think they're all bad' MORE (R-Ariz.) battling brain cancer and unlikely to return, that makes it 50-49. Which means Democrats need to pick up only ONE Republican vote — most likely Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTop Democrat: 'A lot of spin' coming from White House on infrastructure Bill would honor Ginsburg, O'Connor with statues at Capitol The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands MORE (Maine), Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiBill would honor Ginsburg, O'Connor with statues at Capitol The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators MORE (Alaska), Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  MORE (Tenn.) or Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeBiden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Voting rights will be on '22, '24 ballots MORE (Ariz.) — to win the day. But only if all 49 Democrats hang tough.

Can Manchin, Donnelly, Heitkamp, Tester and McCaskill vote “no” and still survive? Absolutely. Here’s how. First, don’t apologize or make excuses for voting against Trump on such an important issue. Instead, brag about it. Make it a positive part of the campaign. Remind voters: You did not elect me to be a rubber-stamp for any president, Republican or Democrat. You elected me to do what’s best for the people of our state. And that’s what I’m doing.

Second, tell people what’s at stake. This is not just some popularity contest for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. This is about life and death issues which will have a profound impact on every American. As The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin notes, if anybody on Trump’s list of 25 potential nominees is confirmed, the newly constituted court could be expected to overrule Roe v. Wade and allow states to prosecute any physicians and nurses who perform abortions; allow shopkeepers or restaurants to refuse service to LGBTQ Americans; enable universities to accept fewer African-American and Latino students; approve laws designed to make it more difficult to vote; expand exercise of the death penalty; and prohibit states from adopting any sensible form of gun control, even the banning of bump stocks.

Surely, it’s not so difficult for red-state Democrats to make the argument that protecting fundamental constitutional rights of all Americans is more important than an automatic show of loyalty to any president. The only thing preventing Democrats from blocking Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is not the math. It’s the backbone to prevent the court from moving backward.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”