If you're a God-fearing type, one who puts stock in omens and portents, and you're chosen to fill a vacancy on the United States Supreme Court only to see your nomination ceremony turn into what increasingly appears to have been a super-spreader event for pandemic disease, you'd think that might be a sign. Maybe I should pump the brakes here, you might say, or at least, Maybe I should think twice about that inevitable vote to strip healthcare from tens of millions of people.
The guy who nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Court has been flown from the White House to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and is so far on his second round of therapeutic treatment. (First it was Regeneron's polyclonal antibody cocktail, according to presidential physician Sean P. Conley. Now it's remdesivir. Strangely, there's been no hydroxychloroquine.) Also, the First Lady has the virus. The chairwoman of the Republican National Committee has the virus. The head of the president's re-election campaign has the virus. The president's onetime campaign manager—and more recently, senior counselor—has it. The president of the super-Catholic university where Barrett taught and went to law school has it.
Related: A timeline of President Trump's comments on the coronavirus
But it's not just the ceremony. If Barrett is going to find her way to the nation's highest court in order to issue favorable rulings for powerful corporate interests, she'll have to pass through the Senate, and more specifically, the Senate Judiciary Committee. Already, two Republican members of that committee who would back her—Mike Lee of Utah and Thom Tillis of North Carolina—have announced they tested positive for COVID-19. Chuck Grassley, an 87-year-old(!) member who attended a committee meeting with Lee on Thursday, reportedly refuses to get tested. This may be an iteration of the president's long-held theory that "testing creates more cases."
The already-positive are joined by Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, another member of the 53-seat Republican majority that intends to try to confirm Barrett while a chunk of the caucus—not to mention the president who nominated her—are sick, and at a time when the public has already started voting in the coming election. There's no use at this point reminding everyone how these same Republicans blockaded Merrick Garland 11 months before a presidential contest because they could. They are beyond reason, much less accusations of hypocrisy or appeals to shame, at this point. It's about power, and taking it however you can. Mitch McConnell will move Heaven and Earth to install Barrett on the bench between now and Election Day—and failing that, between now and Inauguration Day. Never mind what messages Heaven might be trying to send down to Earth.
Surely Barrett will continue the cold calculus of religious conservatism in this era, where the Evangelical right has fully embraced a man who's routinely demonstrated complete irreligiosity—and sometimes outright disdain for believers—in public. Which principles of Jesus Christ does Donald Trump embody? Or better yet, which of the Seven Deadly Sins—pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, sloth—does he not?
Never mind all that. It's all about the judges, baby! It's a means to an end, and Barrett will surely see her ascension to the Court, even in such tawdry circumstances, as merely a trial along the road to building the Kingdom of God. Of course, she's assured us that mission would never bleed into her work as a judge! Her rulings just always end up forwarding conservative policy goals because "textualism" and "originalism." After all, Vice President Mike Pence, one among those aforementioned Evangelicals, is reportedly "a man who believes, according to friends, that divine forces have conspired to place him within a heartbeat of the presidency." These Biblical events always have a way of telling you exactly what you want to hear.
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