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A Defense of Court Packing

A Defense of Court PackingIt was only a matter of time, really. Ever since Senate Republicans refused to hold a vote on Merrick Garland four years ago, progressives have argued that Democrats need to wrest back control of the Supreme Court by packing it full of liberal justices. By the Democratic primary last year, the idea had gone relatively mainstream, and half of the presidential candidates expressed openness to it. Now, in the five days since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, calls from the left to pack the court have reached a volume that will be difficult for party leaders to ignore. Democrats have few options to try to prevent President Donald Trump from confirming his nominee, whom he plans to announce on Saturday. So they’re already gaming out how to get revenge.If Trump confirms a new justice this year, “when Democrats control the Senate in the next Congress, we…

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Is This How Biden Blows It?

Is This How Biden Blows It?Last weekend, Philippe Reines walked over to Ron Klain’s house in Washington, D.C., to hand off his Donald Trump outfit: the suit, the shoes with the lifts, the shirt, the long red tie, the cufflinks. Just in case. When the former Hillary Clinton aide stored the outfit in a bag after playing Trump in debate prep four years ago, a part of him thought it might one day be in her presidential library.Klain ran Clinton’s debate prep, and he’s doing it again this year for Joe Biden. Klain has a rule against discussing the process, but he did tell me that no one is going to be putting on the outfit this year. The former vice president doesn’t like mock debates—he prefers to read research briefings and have a collection of aides fire questions at him.Trump says he isn’t preparing at all ahead of the…

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What Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Death Means for America

What Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Death Means for AmericaA furious battle over a Supreme Court vacancy is arguably the last thing the United States needed right now.The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg today represents a devastating loss for feminists who held up the 87-year-old as an icon of women’s rights, and as a bulwark protecting abortion rights and a wide range of other progressive ideals on a conservative Supreme Court.But her passing less than two months before the presidential election also tosses one more lit match into the tinderbox of national politics in 2020: It will surely inflame a deeply polarized country already riven by a deadly pandemic, a steep economic downturn, and civil unrest in its major cities.In Washington, the vacancy fight could ratchet up tensions to a level unseen even in the tumultuous Trump era. President Donald Trump will be eager to fill Ginsburg’s seat immediately, seizing an…

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Say the Democrats Win. Then What?

Say the Democrats Win. Then What?If Democrats manage to hold the House of Representatives and win back the Senate and the White House in November, the party will have full control of the federal government for the first time in 11 years. Police reform, climate change, and health care are all on their agenda. But before newly empowered Democrats get to any of that, they will very likely pass a relief package to address the coronavirus pandemic and the associated economic crisis. Then, they will aim to fundamentally change how voting and government work in the United States by expanding voting rights, reducing the influence of money in politics, strengthening ethics rules, and maybe even ending the Senate filibuster—reforms they hope will make America’s democracy work better and the rest of their agenda easier to carry out.“If there is any political capital to be spent, the concerns over democracy reform…

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Howie Hawkins Is No Kanye West

Howie Hawkins Is No Kanye WestHowie Hawkins may be the Green Party’s presidential nominee, but he isn’t Jill Stein—or at least, he can’t be, because he’s not on the ballot in as many swing states as Stein was in 2016. Courts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania decided this week to keep his party’s ticket off of the 2020 ballots. But Hawkins told me he’s not Kanye West either, even though Republican operatives have been helping both the Green Party and West’s “Birthday Party.” People who believe that West’s effort and his are the same, Hawkins said, “are gullible.”Hawkins is running not to win, he told me, but to get his party better ballot access for local races in the future. If his candidacy ends up being the reason Donald Trump is reelected, “I won’t like it,” Hawkins said. But, he added, he thinks that’s unlikely. Speaking with me for the latest…

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Sean McElwee Is Begging the Left to Grow Up

Sean McElwee Is Begging the Left to Grow UpWhen word got out in early March that Joe Biden’s campaign had invited the progressive pollster Sean McElwee to a meeting on climate policy, some on the far left were outraged. Sure, Bernie Sanders’s presidential prospects weren’t looking great, but the senator had not yet suspended his campaign. So why, McElwee’s critics demanded to know, would he agree to advise the former vice president? Hundreds of leftists spent more than a month dragging him on Twitter, flooding his mentions with insults: One user with a Homer Simpson avatar accused him of being a sellout. Another, who went by the handle “party rocking LLC,” called him a “rat.” One night at a bar in New York City, a stranger confronted McElwee about it: “Man,” the person said, “I thought you were a leftist.”By most definitions, McElwee is a leftist. The 27-year-old had launched…

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