Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fancies himself a player of “The Long Game,” as the title of his memoir would suggest, and while members of his caucus grapple with whether his extensive political machinations should remain the direction of the party moving forward, the lawmaker seemed more than pleased with the devious nickname his patient partisanship has earned him from across the aisle.
Since Roe v. Wade was overturned last Friday through the Supreme Court’s decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a lot of consideration has been given to the multitude of events that had to occur before conditions would be met to satisfy that end. In his own words to Fox News Digital, a federal judiciary focus has been “the most consequential contribution I’ve been able to make to my country in the course of my career,” and for that, one law professor says “dark lord” McConnell has his fingerprints all over the ruling.
“He can’t even imagine how there could be something different for him to be doing,” Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig said of the senator’s consistency in confirmation efforts. “He thinks this is his job. I fear that thing the framers feared has come true… And Mitch McConnell, I think, is the poster child for that.”
“Mitch McConnell is the dark lord,” he asserted. “The framers of our Constitution thought we needed to fear one thing more than everything, and that was partisanship. And Mitch McConnell believes there’s one thing we should promote more than anything, and that is partisanship.”
Judicial Crisis Network President Carrie Severino also attributed the resulting decision on Roe, albeit positively, to the Kentucky legislator’s efforts in getting Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett through their confirmations.
“Those three justices are the ones who are making a difference here,” she said. “It’s hard to overstate the significance of Mitch McConnell’s leadership on this.”
While Lessig and others have criticized the decision from the court and the level of influence that McConnell had in filling its roster with voiced concerns like, “‘Who the hell are you? What are you doing? What reason is there for you to have this central role in our democratic institutions?'” the senator rationalized that the court itself was not asserting any power.
“The Supreme Court, in effect, corrected an error when in 1973, the court simply found something in the Constitution that was not there… What this decision does is simply return this very sensitive issue to the people’s representatives,” he told Fox News. “I don’t understand the criticism. I guess these people don’t trust the democratic process. The Supreme Court didn’t outlaw abortion. The Supreme Court simply said the American people, through their elected representatives, will decide the future of this very sensitive issue.”
“You don’t see me going over in front of the court like [Sen.] Chuck Schumer and calling out justices by name and threatening them with consequences. If anybody’s been attacking the court and its legitimacy, it’s been the political left in this country up to and even including the decision of the Speaker [Nancy Pelosi] to sit on the court security bill we passed on a voice vote in the Senate last month, for an entire month,” McConnell went on.
Others were not so quick to give the leader as much credit despite his decision to move to fill the vacancy after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020.
“I think that President Trump actually deserves though the lion’s share of the credit because he has to nominate,” Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said. “I’m grateful for Senator McConnell for being I think, very resolute on the confirmation process. But… we’ve had Republican justices confirmed in the past who’ve been big disappointments. And that’s really down to the president who nominates them.”
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) followed suit and told Fox News, “What did we set out to do? What every Republican president ought to do, and not many of them have done it as good as Trump. What do you want on the Supreme Court? It’s pretty simple: Young people that are going to be judicial interpreters, originalist, strict constructionist and not be a superlegislature. So you end up with Gorsuch and Kavanaugh and Barrett.”
While doubts linger as to whether or not McConnell remains the leader in the Senate after the midterms, his efforts have earned him a number of choice monikers from Democrats, but “dark lord” is his favorite yet.
“My previous favorite name they gave me was Darth Vader,” he said, “but I think I like this one even better.”
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