Avengers: Supreme Court
The six Radical Right Justices are Infinity Stones. Republicans will protect them at all costs. Democrats must use this to their advantage.
The villain in the last two Avengers movies is a galactic warlord named Thanos. Thanos is possessed of an insatiable lust for power, purplish skin, a weird chin, and an utter lack of morality. He’s Mitch McConnell, basically.
Like all supervillains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thanos has big dreams. His involve saving the universe by [checks notes] killing half of all living things in it, in one fell swoop. To realize his genocidal ambitions, Thanos goes on a quest to collect all six Infinity Stones. Created at the time of the Big Bang, each Infinity Stone controls an essential aspect of existence—Space, Mind, Reality, Power, Time, and Soul.
Understand: gathering the Infinity Stones is no Easter egg hunt on the White House lawn. They are safeguarded by very powerful beings, not Sean Spicer in a bunny suit. But the obdurate Thanos manages to do it, because, basically, his will is greater than that of the Avengers, who are too busy fighting amongst themselves to match his singlemindedness of purpose. (Thanos is Mitch McConnell, like I said, and Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk & Co. are the disarrayed Democrats.) For Thanos, no sacrifice is too great to achieve his aim. For example, the weird-chinned bad guy pushes his own daughter off a cliff to procure the vaunted Soul Stone.
Once Thanos acquires all six Infinity Stones, he proceeds with his dastardly plan. And there’s not much the Avengers can do to stop him. Hawkeye is really good at [checks notes] shooting arrows, but that’s no match for the fucking Infinity Gauntlet, this snazzy glove Thanos wears on his left hand like some sort of steroidal, extraterrestrial Michael Jackson. Even Thor, a literal god, can’t stop him. With one snap of Thanos’s gloved fingers, half of all life in the universe ceases to be.
The reason I’m going into—and possibly spoiling; all apologies!—Avengers: Infinity Wars and Avengers: End Game is because the plot is a perfect analogy for 1/ how the GOP captured the Supreme Court, and 2/ how the Radical Right intends to abuse its godly power. Mitch McConnell, avatar of the dark moneyed Radical Right, is Thanos, as discussed. The Supreme Court is the Gauntlet/glove. And Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanagh, and Amy Coney Barrett are the six Infinity Stones.
Thanos sacrifices everything—even the life of his own daughter—to acquire all six Infinity Stones. There is nothing more important to him. Why? Because only with the power of the Infinity Stones can he realize his genocidal dream. Otherwise, he’s just another megalomaniacal purple bad guy the Avengers, once assembled, can make short work of. Hulk smash!
So it is with McConnell and the Radical Right’s minoritarian overlords: Leonard Leo, the Kochs, the Bradleys, etc. They will sacrifice anything and everything for those six SCOTUS seats. With only five Justices, there’s always the worry that one of them—usually Roberts, sometimes the pompous Gorsuch—will side with the liberal/ progressive/ Captain America wing. But with six, the Radical Right wins every time, even if one of the softer Justices flakes out. The captured Court can do whatever its reactionary kidnappers want it to do: overturn Roe, erode voting rights, operate a shadow docket, toss out judicial precedent on a whim, chip away at the First Amendment. It’s no coincidence that we’re seeing all these statehouses in places like Oklahoma and Mississippi and Texas pass crazy, evil, retrograde laws right now—the Radical Right knows that when these laws are challenged in court, the Six will sign off on all of them.
It is critical to understand that the GOP values those six Supreme Court Justices more than anything else. I will say it one more time: the GOP values those six Supreme Court Justices more than anything else. They’re the freakin’ Infinity Stones, the ultimate source of all of the Radical Right’s power!
That’s why McConnell defied the spirit of the Constitution to deep-six the Merrick Garland nomination—he was willing to try anything and everything to secure that Infinity Stone (and Obama and the passive Democrats were not).
That’s why Lindsey Graham shrieked like a banshee during the Kavanaugh hearing—enduring a few news cycles of humiliation was a small price to pay for the fifth Infinity Stone. (That’s also why there was so much security around the Capitol during those hearings. The photojournalist Sandi Bachom, who filmed those protests, told me it was impossible to get within two blocks of the building during the Kavanaugh hearings; there were bomb-sniffing dogs and mass arrests, she said, in stark contrast to the more lax security on January 6.)
That’s why McConnell giddy-upped the Amy Coney Barrett nomination, flying in the face of all his stated reasons for slow-walking Garland. What’s a little more hypocrisy to the King of the Gaslighters, if the reward is the sixth Infinity Stone?
And that’s why the GOP aids and abets the seditious activities of Ginni Thomas, MAGA Kool-Aid Drinker and Big Lie True Believer. She has total carte blanche. That odious creature could have hanged Mike Pence herself during the insurrection, and Republicans would still look the other way. Why? If anything happens to Ginni, her husband Clarence, the first and most reliable Infinity Stone, might have to step down.
Those six Justices are the six Infinity Stones: the source of all the Radical Right’s power—and, also, the mechanism by which the forces of American fascism can be defeated.
Again: like Thanos and the Infinity Stones, the GOP values those six Supreme Court Justices more than anything else. Of late, Republicans in Congress have not even bothered to conceal this #1 priority. Consider:
We know Republicans in Congress don’t care about gun control. We watched in the days after Uvalde as they blamed the massacre on anything they could thing of—mental health, doors, the need to kill feral pigs—other than on AR-15-style guns. (The bipartisan legislation being worked on now, while a step in the right direction, falls pathetically short of what is needed—although it will help GOP spin in November.)
We know Republicans in Congress don’t care about the lives of women. We saw this after the leak of the Alito draft opinion overturning Roe v. Wade. The Republicans were infuriated…that there was a leak, not that overturning Roe will lead inevitably to many women dying in agony.
And we know most Republicans in Congress don’t care about Donald Trump’s violent attempt to overthrow the government. We saw this in the second impeachment, just six weeks after the besieging of the Capitol, when 43 of the 50 Republican Senators voted to acquit the seditious Former Guy. And we saw this last week, as Elise Stefanik and the other mendacious GOP traitors bent over backwards to poo-poo the January 6 Committee Hearings—even though they were all there when this happened, and on January 6, 2021, in the moment, were scared shitless. “It’s old news,” they told us.
But some of Kavanaugh’s neighbors gather on the sidewalk and hold up protest signs outside his house? Republicans in Congress turned into the fucking Hulk. The Senate passed a bill almost instantaneously that provided more security for SCOTUS families. Shit, McConnell hasn’t moved that fast since he got thrown out of the army. And of course Chuck Schumer—Senate Majority Leader so-called, and possibly the most gullible human being on God’s green earth—went merrily along, attaching nothing to the bill and immediately agreeing to bring it to a vote, once again allowing McConnell to bamboozle him. (Seriously: Chuck must go. Klobuchar now!)
The Senate bill now languishes in the House, where Nancy Pelosi has wisely put it on ice. There were renewed calls for action last week, when an armed man was arrested outside the Chevy Chase manse Brett Kavanaugh could not possibly have paid the down payment on. Tom Cotton, one of the most egregious traitors in Washington, called the would-be assassin a “Democratic hitman.” (Turns out, the perp, who had a suitcase of weapons and zip-ties, never actually took out his guns, and called the cops as soon as he got to Kavanaugh’s block.)
“Protect the Justices!” became a GOP cri de cœur, with each Republican in Congress trying out his or her own little spin:
But it’s not like the Justices are sitting ducks. They already enjoy the protection of the Supreme Court Police Department when in Washington. When they travel, the U.S. Marshals Service provides security. They are well guarded right now. Republicans want us to believe otherwise.
In the wake of the “Democratic hitman” news, both the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post wrote editorials about preserving the sanctity of the homes of Supreme Court Justices. “No matter how passionately activists feel about an issue—and we believe strongly that overturning Roe would be a disastrous mistake—these feelings do not justify invading public officials’ private lives and those of their families,” tsk-tsked WaPo. “Democrats are upset that many Republican voters don’t consider the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot to have been an assault on democracy, and maybe one reason is that too many Democrats appear to have a double standard about which democratic institutions they want to protect,” the WSJ argued, with Soviet logic that would make Stalin proud. “But what about the growing threat to the third branch of democratic government, the Supreme Court, and especially the seeming nonchalance toward last week’s arrest of an armed man outside the home of Justice Brett Kavanaugh?”
Where was this push to better protect Supreme Court Justices two years ago, when it was revealed that the murderer who killed the son and wounded the husband of U.S. District Court Judge Esther Salas also wanted to assassinate Justice Sonia Sotomayor?
McConnell, meanwhile, has not been as animated since whatever he did to get thrown out of the army. “House Democrats need to stop their multi-week blockade against the Supreme Court security bill and pass it before the sun sets today,” McConnell demanded in remarks on the Senate floor, channeling a sheriff from some racist Western. He sounded hysterical. There was real emotion in his voice—emotion that was notably lacking after Uvalde. Why? He is afraid of losing power.
The reality is that those six Supreme Court seats are the source of all the Radical Right’s power. And that power is fragile. Those seats are not filled by Norse gods of war, or galactic warlords, or vibranium synthezoids, but by flesh-and-blood human beings. If Clarence Thomas doesn’t make it back from the hospital with a mystery illness, that power goes away. If Sam Alito pops some Cialis and has a massive coronary while jerking off to the image of young women dying from back alley abortions, that power goes away. If Amy Coney Barrett has an ectopic pregnancy she is no longer lawfully allowed to properly treat and succumbs to sepsis, that power goes away. If Brett Kavanaugh goes to rehab, quits drinking, falls off the wagon, and pulls an Amy Winehouse, that power goes away.
Those are things McConnell and his cronies have no control over. So they will make damned sure to do everything in their power to keep those six individuals safe, in ways they can control: Republicans in Congress will never allow an expansion of the Court. Republicans in Congress will cover for Ginni Thomas. Republicans in Congress will block an investigation into Kavanaugh’s finances. Republicans in Congress will look the other way when Barrett makes bank on her bullshit book deal. And Republicans in Congress will pitch hissy fit after hissy fit to convince the House to vote on S.4160.
They want it. Bad.
And that’s a opportunity Democrats can, and must, use to exact compromise: Any bill about expanded protection for Supreme Court Justices must also include common sense gun reform legislation. Schumer missed the opportunity to do this, as Schumer always seems to do. Pelosi hasn’t. Make the Republicans make hard choices: to better safeguard the SCOTUS Infinity Stones, will they consent to a ban on AR-15-style weapons? In other words, will they agree to better protect the lives of America’s children in order to better protect the six Radical Right Justices on the Court?
This is the hand the Democrats in Congress must play. The fate of democracy may well depend on it. The question is, do they have the stones to do it?
Easy question Greg - will the Democrats have the stones? Nope. Not unless they replace the geriatric leadership in the House and Senate with younger leaders who recognize the existential threat posed by Republicans.
That is some great writing Greg. Thanks!