Sorry to break it to you, but our work is not done just because all of the votes in races other than IL-GOV and WA-SEN have been cast and mostly counted (yet to be recounted, miscounted, and challenged). Celebrate, yes, but don’t let the celebration distract you from the fact that there is at least one more battle to be fought.
It is abundantly clear, or, rather, I would like it to be, that President Obama will have a considerably more difficult job of getting his way over the next two years than in the past two years. That is, sadly, with one crucial exception. That exception is central to the reason that many of us fight at all.
For the last two years, the Senate Judiciary Committee has had twelve Democrats and seven Republicans. Over that time, they have recommended two people to the full Senate for confirmation to the Supreme Court. Both of those votes were 13-6. In both cases, Sen. Lindsey Graham was the sole member to break with his party. In doing so, he aided and abetted in the confirmation of two people who showed utter contempt for the proper role of the judiciary, the legislative branch, and the Constitution itself. If you don’t believe me, I refer you to Sonia Sotomayor’s comment that the courts are where policy is made. What’s more, he gave cover to Republicans in the full Senate who otherwise would have a considerably more difficult time supporting those confirmations.
Last night, Americans told Washington that, in spite of what has happened over the last century, the Constitution still means something. Although ideology is a part of that, the clearer statement is a strong reminder that government derives its authority from the consent of the governed, and the American people do not consent to the government’s repeated usurpation of power. As Americans, our consent is grounded in the Constitution, which separates and limits the powers of the various branches of government, and, indeed, the government as a whole. Lindsey Graham, however, failed to do his job to defend the Constitution, and the limitations and divisions it contains, by supporting the Supreme Court confirmation of two people certain to amend, extend, revise, rewrite, or, if necessary, just simply ignore it.
Sadly, though, believers in limited government, separation of powers, and the Constitution did not have the opportunity to punish the Senator for his dereliction of duty in these elections. Now we do. I propose that we make it our cause over the next couple of weeks to see to it that the Senate Republicans remove Senator Graham from the Judiciary Committee and replace him with, among others, Senator-elect Mike Lee. The voters have shown that they are serious about restoring the sorely lacking respect that is shown for the Constitution. Now it is time for Senate Republicans to demonstrate that they understand that message.