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Jamelle Bouie: Why Republicans Are So Angry About the Supreme Court Leak

When McConnell led the Senate Republican caucus in a blockade of President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court in 2016 and then killed what remained of the judicial filibuster the next year to place Neil Gorsuch in the seat instead, they diminished the legitimacy of the court. When those same Republicans looked past a credible accusation of sexual assault to confirm Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, they again diminished the legitimacy of the court. And when, with weeks left before the 2020 presidential election, Republicans ignored their own rule from four years earlier — that an election-year vacancy “should not be filled until we have a new president” — to place Amy Coney Barrett on the bench in a rushed, slapdash process, they once more diminished the legitimacy of the court.

What’s more, their occasional protests notwithstanding (in a speech last year at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville, Barrett insisted the court was “not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks”), the court’s conservatives have done almost nothing to dispel the view that their majority is little more than the judicial arm of the Republican Party. They use “emergency” orders to issue sweeping rulings in favor of ideologically aligned groups; they invent new doctrines designed to undermine voting rights protections; and as we’ve just witnessed, they’ll let nothing, not even 50 years of precedent, stand in the way of a sweeping ideological victory.