We are a nation born out of violent revolution, yet throughout our history the rule of law has always been paramount. Strict adherence to the rule of law and the peaceful transference of power caused us to swear in our current minority president with grave misgivings on the part of many. A majority of us swallowed hard and watched as Donald J. Trump became the 45th president. Many of us had our doubts as to his legitimacy at the time, but we respected our Constitution.
Now we watch as the case against his legitimacy and the potential of charges of obstruction of justice grow stronger almost daily. We continue to respect the rule of law as we hear words like tribalism, autocracy, and kleptocracy creep into our American political vocabulary. We truly fear for our democracy and our place in Trump’s America.
Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team move closer and closer to exposing the treachery of the Trump campaign and administration against the American people, yet Donald Trump continues to exercise the full authority of the office of the president. We continue to remain faithful to the rule of law hoping it will ultimately save our democracy.
The executive branch of our government has become unrecognizable in the hands of Trump. The legislative branch under Republican control refuses to check Trump and looks the other way while the rule of law is trampled. The Democrats have been gerrymandered into a corner and can only await a miracle in 2018 in the form of a tsunami of an election in their favor. The Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolls on in its determination to roll us back to an era of discrimination and injustice. We have one branch of government left to protect and defend our democracy. The judicial branch remains our only hope against the loss of our democracy and ultimately our freedom.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, turns away from the constitutional duties of Congress to rein in this lawless president. Do we really believe this Congress will ever bring articles of impeachment against Trump no matter what Mueller’s investigation reveals?
No, McConnell and his Republican cohorts want complete control. They want the federal judiciary in the hands of the Republican right. That is the final piece needed to insure their domination for decades. McConnell began this process when he, by refusing to schedule hearings for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, held that vacant seat open awaiting a Republican president and, with the help of the Russians, he got one.
Now McConnell plays the waiting game for the next open seat on the Supreme Court. With several aging justices, mostly liberal, he might not have to wait too much longer. Meanwhile he moves at breakneck speed to fill the numerous vacancies on the lower federal bench with Trump appointees. These are lifetime appointments. Several of these appointees are from the far right, with questionable qualifications. If McConnell succeeds, the gains of the LGBTQ community will be lost for generations to come. Our situation is that serious.
So what do we do and stay within the rule of law? We employ injunctive relief to open the door for the federal judiciary to save itself. An injunction is used to stop an action from happening if that action has the potential to cause irreparable harm to a group of people. An injunction is usually successfully sought if the party seeking it is likely to prevail in a subsequent legal case.
Trump is likely to be found guilty of obstruction of justice for his firing of FBI director James B. Comey in order to stop the Russian investigation. Should Trump be making lifetime judicial appointments that will have far-reaching implications for large numbers of Americans until that issue of obstruction is resolved? If a seat on the Supreme Court becomes vacant during his term, would it not be prudent to enjoin Trump from making that appointment until issues under investigation by Mueller are resolved?
McConnell himself has shown us that a Supreme Court seat can be left vacant for a considerable amount of time. Should we not throw every legal chair we can in the way of these guys as they proceed to cause us irreparable harm with ideologically-driven lifetime court appointments made by a president with potential criminal liability and very real questions as to his legitimacy pending? What do we have to lose?
SUSAN SURFTONE is a musician who previously served as an FBI agent. Her latest EP is Making Waves Again.