It’s taken a while, but the sputtering flame of Republican Party ethics has finally flickered out. The GOP may rage against the dying of the light, but its moral compass is now completely disabled.

Why? Because the U.S. Senate is about to hustle a conservative young judge onto the Supreme Court in record time — mere weeks before a presidential election. It’s one last, shameless grab at conservative control before the GOP shuffles off into the night.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, needs to hurry because Republican president Donald Trump is likely to lose his job next month, and the GOP appears likely to lose control of the Senate.

Time is running out! Go Mitch! Go!

Four years ago, McConnell had a very different outlook on confirmation of Supreme Court nominees. Back then, he was a staid defender of principle and rectitude as he studiously ignored the nominee from a Democratic president.

That nominee, Merrick Garland, was already a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia; as such, he was qualified to be a Supreme Court justice. Even so, McConnell sidetracked Garland’s nomination for eight months, insisting the next president should fill the vacancy.

“This decision is about a principle, not a person,” McConnell said at the time. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice.”

McConnell is a colossal hypocrite, but he isn’t the only Republican senator to wear the scarlet letter. Lindsey Graham, the all-purpose presidential toady from South Carolina, also made a high-minded proclamation during the Senate’s slow-walk of Garland’s nomination.

“If there’s a Republican president (elected) in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say, ‘Lindsey Graham said, “Let’s let the next president, whoever it is, make that nomination.’ ”

“That’s going to be the new rule,” he solemnly told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Graham is now chairman of that committee, which means he could enforce his hallowed “new rule.” He and McConnell are the central players in this wretched comedy and, between them, they have less integrity than Judas Iscariot.

If you think this is much ado about nothing, think again.

Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Like Merrick Garland four years ago, she is clearly qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.

She will likely win Senate confirmation by a vote or two, at which point she and five other solidly conservative justices will re-shape public policy for years to come.

The fight over her nomination isn’t just a fight over Roe v. Wade and the right to an abortion. No, it’s much bigger.

It’s about restoring the rights of convicted felons to carry a gun. Hooray! And rolling back protections for gay, lesbian, and transgender people. Hallelujah!

It’s about stripping away environmental protections, so mining corporations can foul the waters of your favorite trout stream. And timber companies can log your favorite hunting spot. And energy conglomerates can drill under your house. Who knows what those imps will do next?

And it’s about making you pay more — a lot more, actually — for medical insurance. What’s that you say about a preexisting condition? That’ll cost extra. And your kids are out of the house now? They’ll need to buy their own insurance policies.

These are just a few of the exciting new roads that a conservative majority Supreme Court will take us down in the not-too-distant future.

So be prepared for a steady rollback of rights for everybody other than straight white Christians. Be prepared for dirtier water, grubbier air, and even nastier corporate culture because environmental and consumer protection will be off the menu.

And be prepared to spend much more of your hard-earned money to buy medical insurance, especially if you lose your job and its employer-provided benefits. If you can’t afford to buy medical insurance on your own, well, that’s too bad, but there are some good do-it-yourself surgery videos on YouTube.

The Little Guy is about to become even more insignificant, and for that you can thank those two humble Promise Keepers — Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham.

After collecting passport stamps for years, William Brock ran aground on the Palouse in 2001.

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