How Lisa Murkowski saved the Supreme Court - Must Read Alaska
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Thursday, September 23, 2021
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How Lisa Murkowski saved the Supreme Court

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It cannot have been easy, but Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski has been here before, with a pivotal vote and pressure from the Left.

This time, it wasn’t about a Supreme Court Justice’s confirmation or an Education secretary nominee. It was about the Supreme Court itself and its very credibility with the American public.

Today in the Senate, Murkowski voted against the introduction of witnesses and more documents in the impeachment trial of the president. Senator Dan Sullivan was already a “no” vote, and was being ignored by the political pressure groups.

There were consequences: Instantly, Murkowski was excoriated by the Left on social media, while her colleague Mitt Romney was just as instantly disinvited from the 2020 Conservative American Union CPAC 2020 conference.

The final vote was 51 against witnesses, and 49 in favor. Only Sen. Susan Collins and Romney crossed over from the Republican position to the Democrat position, leaving Murkowski once again in a situation that had profound implications:

If Murkowski had voted for documents and witnesses, there would have been a tie, and Chief Justice John Roberts would have been called upon to break the tie, putting the Supreme Court right in the middle of what is clearly a partisan battle, one that began in 2017, when Donald Trump took the oath of office.

In no small way, this Murkowski vote mattered. She had the pivotal vote.

And Sen. Elizabeth Warren made it easy. Warren had, just Thursday, posed a question aimed directly at the Supreme Court Justice, challenging his credibility on national television, as she forced him to read it aloud:

“At a time when large majorities of Americans have lost faith in government, does the fact that the chief justice is presiding over an impeachment trial in which Republican senators have thus far refused to allow witnesses or evidence contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the chief justice, the Supreme Court and the Constitution?” 

Roberts read the question, and then paused. A sense of shock went through the Senate. He kept his composure. Warren, as readers know, is running for president and so has a dog in the fight.

In describing why she was a “no” vote, Murkowski today indicated that having the Supreme Court Chief Justice being asked by Warren to wade into the politics at hand was bad for the Republic.

“It has also become clear some of my colleagues intend to further politicize this process, and drag the Supreme Court into the fray, while attacking the chief justice,” Murkowski wrote in advance of the vote today.

[Read: Murkowski to vote no on witnesses, no on polarization]

Murkowski was prescient. As soon as Warren’s question was read by the very man who would have had to break the tie, social media ads started tagging Roberts from the group called “Demand Justice,” an anti-Justice Kavanaugh group.

The political pressure from the Left was shifting from Murkowski to the Supreme Court Justice himself:

The Senate tie would have put Roberts in a position of making one of three choices: Break tie to have witnesses, in which case he’d be in the middle of the trial to follow; break tie against witnesses; or refuse to rule altogether. Whichever way he would rule, he was going to get hammered.

The decision by Murkowski to vote “no” is consistent with her wanting to protect our institutions. If the House is so broken, and the Senate is now embroiled in the House’s dysfunction, the last thing Murkowski would want is to drag the third branch of government into what’s a bitter partisan battle.

Murkowski took a stand to save the pillars of the republic. Readers may send her a note at this address.

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Written by

Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Thank you Lisa. You’ve almost restored the faith. More work for you on the way. Stay strong and republican.

    • Yes, she did right, finally on this one vote. Still do not trust her, still needs to retire or be voted out!

  • Yeah thank you senator Warren for opening up your big fat mouth. I’m pretty sure Lisa was going to vote no anyway, after the beat down that senators got from Rep. Jerry Nadler. Lisa was under a lot of pressure and I’m sure probably Feinstein shook her around a little bit and maybe slapped her a couple of times like she did in the Kavanaugh hearing, but in the end Lisa came through for us. Maybe she was thinking only of herself but this will suffice for now until the next battle.

    • In addition, a 50-50 tie may not have been voted on by the Chief Justice Roberts. He could have chosen to just simply let it stand and a tie vote fails so a 50-50 tie would have been a no vote for witnesses. That’s why the dims needed all four of those swing votes to make it happen.

      • To put it more in perspective, it was the retiring senator from Tennessee they came out of the closet first and knowing that Romney and Collins were a yes vote his vote is the straw that broke the camel’s back. Murkowski after the coast was clear threw her vote in to make it 51.

        • 100% accurate, she masterfully held her cards till others dealt theirs, first the announcement from the senator from Tn told Lisa her “no” vote would be wasted and why face the constituent and conservative backlash on a wasted vote. Then the gift from Warren’s misguided and uncontrollable bravado allowed Lisa to present her vote as the one that saved SCOTUS & the Republic. Had Senator Alexander indicated he would vote yes on witnesses, Lisa would have pivoted to the left quicker than Nadler racing Schiff to the podium yesterday!

        • Thanks for explaining that. I was considering it unlikely she suddenly grew a spine. Now it makes sense

  • I never dreamed the day would come that I would give positive credit to Lisa Murkowski but, with her no vote today. I will gladly say thank you, Lisa Murkowski. You have saved our American integrity and honor. For that I shall be forever be grateful. Debra Kay Settje.

  • Warren lecturing on legitimacy. Signal calliope music.

  • Murkowski couldn’t save a whale from drowning….but the pressure of politics would make the change. Murkowski do good? You have to be kidding!! Politics is her bacon in the bank, not sacrifice as the author suggests. Try writing strong letters to senators to let them know how it works for your vote. Separation of Powers in the three branches of government has been the underlying strength of this whole mess brought on by the criminals in the Democratic fold. .Res.483 #4 requiring the Senate to depose such witnesses and decide which witnesses shall testify, if it agrees to allow the House or the President to subpoena witnesses; (no witnesses were put on the list from the House Managers because they did not let the President defend himself in the House Judiciary Hearings. Murkowski had nothing to do with their antics unless it was behind closed doors.)and the amendment, Purpose: S.Amdt. 1294 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information
    To help ensure impartial justice by requiring the Chief Justice of the United States to rule on motions to subpoena witnesses and documents. (Chief Justice Roberts executes the law…Again Murkowski did not have the deciding vote. His role is in the third branch of government. He’ll tell the Senators what they can and cannot do.
    Murkowski voted Yea on both the resolution and Amendment. If any of the bills had failed, they would have to start over to an acceptable hearing time. Trump cannot be removed from office. Its called separation of power. He is guilty of doing the job he was hired to do and has done it. The dems just couldn’t do a thing to make him look bad and they didn’t want to give him a chance to be on the ballot when the criminal of the Obama admin was on the hook. Remember Murkowski running to Biden right after she won the election as an independent? Well the huggy, huggy time of Obama Admin was great but she has had to work…since Trump got in.
    So, really…give credit where credit is duly done!!! Time to get out your letter material and start writing to the Senators to let them know what you mean, want and what is important. Every Republican Senator got a letter from me. When its time to end the “dog and pony” show, its time to end it. If your vote counts, say so…

  • Not sure Roberts would have been in a spot.

    A tie would mean the yeas were short passage.

    The Chief justice could have ducked easily even if it was expected he had to break the tie….
    (and I’m not so sure he had any constitutional role as a tie breaker…..

    With yeas short….the motion would have died….

    • I said that

      • Roberts explained from the bench that he would not interfere in the Senate’s business, as he is a member of a different branch of government. He said he would not vote to break any ties.

  • Praising Murkowski for voting no is like praising a toddler for using the potty. You got it right, woo hoo. The fact of the matter is that everyone expected her to vote yes and it was a pleasant surprise when she didn’t. The fact that everyone expected her to vote yes is an indication of how bad she is.

    Congratulations for using the potty,

    She is a republican by family, not ideology. Alaska deserves better.

    Enjoying MRA.

    • You’re terrible.
      Forgive me in advance if I accidentally plagiarize, “Praising Murkowski for voting no is like praising a toddler for using the potty. “

    • Agree. An apt metaphor. ?

  • Suzanne, Chief Justice Roberts prior to the votes on the resolution on the upcoming vote on guilt refused to be the tie breaker. Chucky Boy Schumer asked him directly and the Roberts was very straight forward and firm.

    • Whoops! Replied above before I saw your comment.

  • I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but Lisa Murkowksi did the right thing today. I was totally shocked, but in light of what you wrote…I’m going to need to do some soul searching and give her a second chance. Thanks also to Elizabeth Warren for painting in such stark contrast what hung in the balance. This nation has a chance to replace President Trump – it comes in just over ten months when the election is held. Institutions should be respected. Standing for the rule of law in a nation of laws is always the right thing to do. Today, Lisa chose the hard right over the easier wrong. Today I was proud she represented us.

  • Roberts said he won’t break a tie so this whole article is dead.

      • True, but Roberts has now laid it out, no tie breaker by him.

  • Did it ever occur to you that maybe Senator Murkowski motive was an attempt to save herself in the next election? How many Alaskans do you think would have been in favor of her giving a “yes” vote as we suspected she would. After all she is breaking with her consistent record of voting with the liberals and the Democrats. I’m not in any hurry to give her praise, although I am thankful for how the vote went.

  • Since day 1, Adam Schiff , Jerry Nadler , Maxine Waters, Chuck Schumer and other Democrats have been hell-bent on working to impeach the president by all means ,any means and at any cost. Their words not mine. Hate consumes you, you lie , you divide . Guess who’s voting Republican ?
    Trey Gowdy please stand up.

  • I didn’t vote for Trump last election. I do not understand this maniacally deranged impeachment wherein the Democrats have not proved any Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors as the Constitution calls for. This is a purely partisan attempt to sway the next election cycle on the part of the Democrats. It is a sad day for our Country. Hopefully enough people are paying attention to the nonsense that these swamp creatures have wrought upon our nation.
    It is a sad day for our Country.
    I will vote for Trump next election, the Democrats have convinced me.

    • Says the guy who thinks Judge Aarseth is too incompetent to be a judge. Heheh!

      • No brag, just fact.

      • Bill,

        I’m not sure how you describe a guy who changes his mind as frequently as Aarseth, but the definition of incompetent is lacking the qualities needed for effective action; unable to function properly.
        Telling those gathered in his court (after a ten minute recess) that he would not hold up the petition gathering process then a few days later issuing a hold on the petition gathering, then removing the hold a couple days after that, then reissuing the hold a week or so later is incompetency in action by definition.
        Maybe you think that is how the court system is supposed to work? One mind bending turn after another wherein a judge rules against himself time and time again offering nothing but confusion. That’s not how our court system is supposed to work Bill, not at all.

        • When the facts change, some change their minds. Everything you refer to above was based on testimony after his initial ruling. The only mix-up was in the phone order to his people who misinterpreted his order. For whatever reason nobody has been hung out to dry over this-maybe it was plain miscommunication but with the judge out of town there were other(s) involved that figured into it. Your problem is that you don’t appear to know the facts here but you are still entitled to your opinion (just wrong).
          By the way, I’ll go on the record here and predict the SC upholds the trial judge’s entire opinion.

          • Bill,

            First let me thank you for your newfound civility, although I suspect it isn’t of your choosing. As far as everything I said above being based on testimony after the initial ruling, that is simply wrong. Just read what I wrote, it deals with what he said even before his initial ruling, showing your statement is incorrect.
            Maybe I don’t know all the facts, all I have to rely on is the court record and all of the various media reports. Perhaps you are privy to information that nobody else is. If that is the case then you should inform the public about how it is possible for a judge to publicly state in his courtroom one thing then issue a ruling completely opposite of how he said he would rule, then retract that ruling, and then change his ruling that changed his original ruling. These aren’t my opinions, that is what happened and the court record proves it.
            Which opinion do you think the SC will uphold Bill, his first, second, third, or fourth? Really going out on a limb there…

          • The facts, as I understand them, is that Judge ruled and after testimony from STWM he felt they had an argument but his ruling was misunderstood (or miscommunicated) because it was not in writing (over the phone as Judge was out of town). Judge had intended to stay a part of his ruling but not the bit about staying the signature gathering until recall committee was able to respond to STWM’s argument-this may have been a blunder by the Judge or his clerk but I suspect we may never learn this as it really has nothing to do with the ruling, once it had been corrected (immediately after). Then recall committee objected to STWM’s position in their testimony but Judge didn’t buy their argument so he then issued the stay on gathering signatures. You, for some reason, felt whiplash, and immediately labeled the Judge incompetent but the incompetence is pretty clear. Heheh!
            The opinion of SC will support this Judge’s opinion on everything, except the stay, and that’s because it is no longer needed (for the simple-minded) IMO.

          • Bill,

            The facts as you understand them are incorrect. First I did not get whiplash and immediately label the judge as incompetent, only after he changed his ruling for the third time did I question his level of competency.
            Second, the timeline is clear. On Jan 10 the judge made his ruling from the bench not allowing the stay, on Jan 21 he reversed his initial ruling from the 10th allowing the stay, on Jan 22 he reversed his reversed ruling from the 10th disallowing the stay he had granted on the 21st, and on Jan 29 he reversed his reverse to his original reverse which was to uphold the stay he didn’t allow in his first ruling on the 10th before allowing it and then disallowing and then now allowing the stay once more.
            Not questioning the judges level on competency at this point in time would be foolish at best.

          • Your analysis includes the Judges second ruling but that ruling was based on a miscommunication from the Judge in a phone call since he was out of town. Thus the ruling was in error and then when Judge read of that erroneous ruling he immediately corrected it.
            I don’t expect you to admit your error here but it certainly gives a hint of who is incompetent, under the circumstances.

          • Bill,

            It’s a timeline of events that occurred filled with miscommunications by the judge, errors by the judge, and reversal upon reversal by the judge. In other words a display of incompetence. Remember the definition of incompetent is lacking the qualities needed for effective action; unable to function properly…that is a fitting description of the mess the judge made of this series of contradictory rulings.
            You cannot simply discount what actually occurred unless of course you choose to disregard the facts, which is what you are apparently suggesting…and something you do frequently.

          • You can’t seem to understand something that goes against your perceived idea about this Judge. It may well have been his blunder (or his clerk who spoke with him on the phone) but you have no evidence that he is incompetent. What is fact is that Judge corrected the mistake as soon as it became known. You have no facts showing incompetence either. No amount of evidence will convince an idiot, it seems.

          • No doubt Bill, no doubt. I would have thought the definition of the word incompetent would have illustrated the point, especially the unable to function properly part. What with all the miscommunications, errors, and repeated reversal upon reversal by the judge fits the definition of the word, but I guess as you say “No amount of evidence will convince an idiot, it seems.” Keep it classy, Bill.

          • “No amount of evidence will convince an idiot, it seems.” – Bill Yankee
            Oh and Bill, there’s no need to be so hard on yourself, we’re all friends here and we will help you figure this all out.

  • All this shows is that 51 Senators did their jobs while 49 did not. The partisanship and vote tallying is beyond absurd.

  • Why wouldn’t Vice President Pence break a Senate tie vote? Isn’t that how it works?

    • Normally in the Senate. Not in an impeachment.

    • No, not in an Impeachment Trial.

    • That is the normal procedure, but the VP is not allowed to cast a tie-breaking vote during a Presidential impeachment trial.

    • Having the VP cast a tie-breaking vote during an impeachment could and would be construed as a conflict of interest. Let’s face it, if he can cast a tie-breaking vote that ultimately results in the President being removed from office, he would then be sworn in as the new President.

  • Lisa done good. Congratulations. Cheers –

  • We don’t know how lucky we are to have Lisa Murkowski as Alaska’s senior senator. Ms. Downing, you nailed it.

    Senator Murkowski’s seniority and patience in advancement make her indispensable to Alaska. She knows the arcane workings of the Senate. She works to keep the Senate on the right track, the country on the right track, her political party on the right track while dealing with the very complex politics of Alaska and its needs. Lisa’s place on the Senate Appropriations Committee, where she is the Chair of the Interior subcommittee(hint: the Interior Department manages most of Alaska’s land and Indian country affairs) and Chair of the military construction subcommittee(hint: the nation needs its Alaskan military bases with their developing Arctic infrastructure) and to top it off she will be #2 behind Sen. McConnell on the powerful Defense Department subcommittee, the most important committee in the Congress(hint: America needs icebreakers, Coast Guard cutters and a strong military).

    Senator Murkowsi’s vote did protect the Supreme court from the political fray. It did bring closure to the Senate impeachment trial, it gave the country a chance to sigh in relief and it gave the republican party the confidence of unity and success. My hat is off to Lisa Murkowski and I expect there are those in Washington, particularly her fellow Senaators, who hold her in high esteem and will remember what she has done.

    • What a lot of junk…..BS and other potty junk…. This poor person can’t think beyond the end of her/his nose…

  • It’s important to remember that this trial is about the man who is attempting to further damage our country by staying in office another 5 years. He’s already done tremendous damage, making food, air and water less safe for all Americans.

    HIs policies have enriched American Oligarchs, enriched himself and taxed average American families an average of $600 yearly without a vote of Congress. That’s what his tariffs cost each of us and it was done without advise and consent of Congress…that’s taxation without representation.

    Farm bankruptcies are up 50%, student loan debt is higher than it’s ever been and in my opinion, the average American is left worse by his stint in the Oval Office. And yet Murkowski is praised for keeping him in office and hiding SCOTUS role in hurting all of us. Roberts even said that he wouldn’t have broken a tie during the trial.

    Shame on you.

    • I did not see you whining when Obama was doing his thing. Trump has done more for this country than the last 4 presidents combined. Sometimes we have to feel a littel pain to come out ahead. I did not spend 600 dollars on tariffs and got a tax break from him. You are just a angry lib who does not know how this country works.

    • Shame on me?! For not voting for a corrupt criminal who did everything she could to steal the nomination from Bernie? For not voting for a corrupt criminal who shamelessly used her crime family foundation as a clearinghouse for foreign government contributions in what was clearly a pay to play scheme? For not voting for an incompetent drunkard who did nothing while the whole Middle East erupted during her tenure as Secretary of State? Hillary Clinton was a disaster as Secretary of State and she would have been a complete and total disaster for not only our country, but the entire world. Because of President Trump, our world is a safer place and our country is stronger and safer and our economy is booming. Hillary Clinton would never have achieved in three years what President Trump has.

  • Maurice, Jan 31 summed it up: ” Had Senator Alexander indicated he would vote yes on witnesses, Lisa would have pivoted to the left quicker than Nadler racing Schiff to the podium yesterday!”

    In our long term conservative hearts for us old time Alaskans — we know what she has done, and will do. Maurice nailed it it my view. Lisa needs to consistantly support the last line of defense we have in America — Donald J. Trump. Remember we are just one vote away from Socialism

    MRAK continues with the unbridled TRUTH. SD is the best

  • I truly don’t care for her reasoning for voting the way she did, but she did right by the wishes of her constituents and by the American’s who voted for Trump. Thank you Lisa. You did us all proud and I gladly thank you for that.

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