Democrats say Republicans "will regret" rushing to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court on Monday, just days before the 2020 election.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the action an "inerasable stain" as the Democrats filibuster failed.
And Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, tweeted: "This is a dark day for the Senate. Republicans have defied rules & traditions in their rush to confirm Judge Barrett in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic & an election. I believe my Republican colleagues will regret the consequences of taking us down this path."
To those warnings, Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, had this retort: "The reason we were able to do what we did in 2016, 2018 and 2020 is because we had the majority." " He was referring, of course, to the Supreme Court battles of those years.
In 2016, the GOP Senate held off confirming a Barack Obama nominee for nearly a year, refusing even to have hearings on Merrick Garland. Donald Trump's first nominee, conservative Neil Gorsuch was confirmed in April 2017. In 2018, just about a month before the mid-term elections, conservative Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed, despite assault allegations which he denied. Now, a week before the 2020 General Election, the very conservative Barrett steps onto our highest court.
But have the Republicans flung the finger of partisan majority into the faces of Democrats one time too many? The Senate has 23 Republican seats in play and 12 of them are, in the words of political junkies, "potentially competitive."
Have Democrats flung a similar gesture and made a partisan threat at the GOP that they may not be able to keep? The Dems need to pick up four seats to gain a majority. There are 12 Democratic seats in play and two of those are "potentially competitive." Read here, a toss up.
How will this movie end?
Aside from the obvious possible plot twists, e.g., the Supreme Court wades in and gives the election to Trump or the Democrats, after they win, expand the high court and add more justices to balance it or restore a liberal majority, there are more immediate things to consider — like balloting.
Republicans want the newest conservative justice confirmation to motivate their base, especially the part of that base that is unhappy — apoplectic, even — on Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. That failure alone seems to be eating away at Trump and Republican votes like a powered-up Pacman in states like Montana, South Carolina, Iowa and Texas. To paraphrase The Washington Post pundit Amber Phillips: Why else would McConnell choose Barrett's confirmation over a coronavirus relief package right before the election?
But Democrats expect that Barrett's confirmation will have the opposite effect. And at least one Republican strategist is afraid they're right. "Right now we're fat and happy," Mike Davis, president of the Article III Project, told The New York Times. "We have the first true conservative majority on the Supreme Court in 80 years. ... So Republicans could be complacent while Democrats are fired up."
Add to that the likely threat that a Supreme Court with Barrett on it will banish the Affordable Care Act and take away health care coverage that millions rely on as COVID-19 continues to rise.
The fact that there's nothing Democrats can do about it short of winning back the presidency and the Senate make for a powerful November rallying cry.
Stay tuned. It's not a movie. It's a mini-series.