Bricks and Mortars

Your very own Senate Farce Guide

By Lawrence Reichard | Jul 06, 2018

This column is dedicated to the memory of Gerald Fischman, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, Wendi Winters, and Rob Hiassen, a 59-year-old columnist who took long walks to clear his head.

This is how it's going to play out. Take it to the bank. President Trump is going to announce his pick to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy in the most dignified way possible, by tweet. Thanks to a high-level source in the White House, I can tell you three things about Trump's nominee. He or she will be relatively young. He or she will be really, really great. And he or she will do a really incredible job.

The nominee will have at least some anti-choice history and this will make Susan Collins late for work as she practices furrowing her brow in front of her bathroom mirror.

The Collins PR team will wake from coma and leap into action. By lunchtime everyone from Fort Kent to Kittery to Tucumcari will know that Susan Collins has grave concerns about the nominee. But the nominee must have his or her day in court. He or she is entitled to that. We must maintain an open mind, just as we did when it was reported that Neil Gorsuch, the last Supreme Court nominee Collins voted to confirm, upheld the firing of a truck driver who abandoned his rig rather than freeze to death.

Trump has announced he will announce on Monday, July 9. In the four days between that Monday and the following Friday there will be at least one impromptu, painfully authentic mic-in-the-face drive-by interview with Susan Collins in the hallway outside her office in which Collins will say she is withholding judgment until the nominee's confirmation testimony. And on Sunday, July 15, Collins will hit at least one of the Sunday morning talk shows such as Meet the Press, Face the Nation or Purge the Platitudes. There she will trot out her well-rehearsed respect-for-precedent line, which is playing like a PR dream: It sounds impressive and is completely void of actual content.

If we're really lucky, the talk show host will ask Collins how her respect-for-precedent thing is working out with Neil Gorsuch in the wake of Gorsuch's May 21 opinion barring workers from bringing class-action lawsuits against employers who violate federal labor laws, a ruling that tossed 73 years of precedence right out the window. Workers can still sue; they just have to do it on their own, one at a time. But don't worry, I'm sure the Ernst & Young workers who brought suit against their employer will do just fine individually suing a corporation with revenues of $31.4 billion.

Then there's Gorsuch's June 26 vote to uphold President Trump's Muslim travel ban, which turns on its ear the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, which will turn 150 years old the day Trump announces his candidate for aiding in the amendment's further dismantling.

But don't tune in that Sunday morning expecting any of that to happen. Television hosts rarely start food fights on Sunday mornings. It's bad form.

Between the writing of these words and the vote to confirm Trump's nominee, scores of articles will portray Susan Collins as a key swing vote on the nomination, and Ripley's Believe It Or Not has announced that any lucky newspaper reader who can find a single such article that doesn't describe Collins as a “moderate” will win a brand new Buick.

Lucky indeed, but not half as lucky as Susan Collins' press secretary, who gets paid to sit back and watch the mainstream media do her job for her. Talk about sweet gigs, that's even better than Bruce Poliquin's press secretary, who, having nothing else to do, has to run security on the congressman's door, bring him lunch under his desk, and hold his trench coat in place over his head as Poliquin exits the back door of the Longworth House Office Building every day at 2 o'clock.

Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly, who's doing a fantastic job — and will be fired by the end of next week — will tell Trump that a crucial Senate vote is keen on Supreme Court nominees who respect precedent. Never one to miss an opportunity, Trump will take to Twitter. “My nominee is going to respect president so much,” Trump will tweet. “It's going to be really incredible.”

When at long last the long-suffering Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee tire of being sneered at by a nominee who knows he has the votes, Mitch McConnell will kindly remove half of the potatoes from his mouth and call for a floor vote. And there will be Susan Collins, replete with furrowed brow and a look of consternation known only to the most habitual of fence-sitters, ready to vote yes and drive yet another nail into the coffin of American jurisprudence.

Lawrence Reichard is a first-place Maine Press Association winner, freelance writer and activist who lives in Belfast.


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