A Supreme Court Vote Is Just One of Heidi Heitkamp’s Headaches

In North Dakota, Senator Heidi Heitkamp is grappling with a Supreme Court pick, a trade war, a hostile President Trump and a well-known Republican challenger.

Comments: 171

  1. Both Republicans and Democrats need to hear this message clearly: most citizens want a working government, with agencies performing their respective functions, and a president who is not a lying sociopath criminal. Is that really too much to ask? No Congressperson or Senator's seat is important in the grand scheme of things. Serving in either house was never meant to be career spanning decades. All of them are replaceable. Why can't most of them put the good of the country ahead of their own personal positions??

  2. Whose votes does she hope to gain by supporting Trump's supreme court nominee as a democrat? Pod Saves America made a wonderful point about this. There aren't any independents out there who dislike Trump but are huge fans of Kav. And the Trumpers will just vote Republican anyway. And she will be alienating the Democrats who want to vote for a Democrat and not a mostly-Trumper. AND Republicans showed before the last election that you get rewarded for obstructionism! So what the heck is she thinking??

  3. She will help the Democrats attain a majority in Congress. On the big issues, she is with her party: health care, taxes, civil rights, etc. But she can't be seen as a knee jerk opponent to Donald Trump's appointments because her constituents actually want him to succeed. Waiting until the Dakotas become North and South Berkeley seems really ill-advised.

  4. I'm not as worried about Supreme Court picks as I once was. Most seemingly radical shifts the Court has made through history really waited until the public's majority opinion shifted first. And the Democratic Party machine must not be that worried either, or they never would have nominated someone for President, who carried around as much dirty laundry in their baggage as Hillary Clinton. After ND's lone Democratic Congressman Earl Pomeroy fell for the CIA's lies and voted to invade Iraq, I wrote in Heidi Heitkamp's name rather than be a part of Mr. Pomeroy's reelection. That was the end of his political career. In November I'll be voting for Heidi no matter how she votes on Judge Kavanaugh.

  5. It will be a miracle if she sticks with the Democrats on the Supreme Court vote.

  6. The debate over Roe vs. Wade endures because the constitution is mute on abortion as it is on most issues. Instead of permitting the debate over Roe v Wade to become a decisive factor in every election and every Supreme Court nomination, Pro-Choice and Pro-Life advocates should persuade their congressmen to draft amendments that would settle the issue of whether an abortion is a constitutional right. An amendment that states “A woman’s right to abortion shall not be infringed during the first two trimesters of pregnancy” would have a good chance of ratification; this is the Roe vs. Wade standard.

  7. @William Case thank you for your interesting comment. I'm urging you to use the word "probirth" rather than "prolife" because the people who are probirth often put women and girls (who get pregnant as early as 10 and 11) at risk. They put existing humans at risk for a small clump of cells. Probirth people do not care, it seems, what happens after the birth: the infant can be severely impaired (born with large portion of its brain missing in one case I personally know) and / or born into a family that's already economically stressed or stressed because another child they have is infirmed, and cannot support one more infirmed child; the infant could be the result of incest or rape and with the current laws that require a child to get the consent of a parent to abort, that pregnant child could well be asking the consent of her rapist; or the Pence requirements of having to have funeral rites for fetuses meant that with spontaneous abortions that occur in 20% of all pregnancies (or more) women have to check each menstrual cycle for a glob of cells the size of a fingernail and give that a funeral. These are not "prolife" laws because the life they project on others is no life for anyone. If you believe that a fertilized egg is a "baby" then by golly go ahead and give birth. But the truth is that it's not a baby. It's a means to shackle women into a second-class position by virtue of the fact that they engaged in sex with men. Please use the term pro-choice and probirth.

  8. @Alive and Well I wasn't taking sides in the debate. I just want it settled one way of the other so we can judge candidates and nominees on other issues. Why argue over what the Constitution says when we can make it say exactly what the people want it to say.

  9. @William Case Thanks again for your thoughts and suggestions. A couple of comments: 1) You should use the term Pro-Death rather than Pro-Choice since, in fact, abortion kills an actual human being. Use of abortion as a form of birth control is stilling a beating heart. That said, I would support exceptions in cases of incest, rape and medical necessity. 2) While a Constitutional Amendment would clear it all up, there is realistically no chance. Once the amendment gets through Congress (which is hard enough), it must be ratified by 2/3's of states. Given the current political demographics, it's more likely to get an anti-abortion amendment though the 34 states than a pro-abortion. As such, we are stuck with the status quo, I'm afraid.

  10. This sort of spineless mental gymnastics is why Democratic voters won’t show up in the mid-terms. Why vote for someone who lacks the courage to support what’s best for their country? No better than Trump’s shape shifting on every issue. The Republicans must be having quite the laugh watching Democrats twist their principles and actually vote for a justice who will protect the criminal president from prosecution and reverse Roe v Wade. Once those are done, what’s the use of having a Democratic majority in the house or senate? You can’t impeach and you lose the free choice issue at the Supreme Court. You’re powerless as a majority, and Trump’s president another 4 years. At least you keep your tax payer funded job I guess.

  11. Same with supporting Bloomberg's push to fund "center"-rightists. The worst Democrat is better than the best Republican, but only if they're not just trying to be the best Republican.

  12. The “sidebar” associated with this article queries whether Fisrt Amendment rights trump the de Tocqueville ethos that Americans cherish “equality” over “liberty.” As such, this Supreme Court appointment brings additional erosion of this long standing value.

  13. @Jay why? Became de he doesn’t necessarily support your world view. His job is to make sure our laws pass constitutional standards. The fact that he doesn’t believe judges should make law may anger you, but it is, by its nature, constitutional.

  14. So...if the state you represent favors Republican policies and you as a Democrat vote for those policies because you are afraid of losing your job...what is the difference between you and the Republican? Just saying that you are a Democrat doesn't make you one. That is the problem with too many Democrats...they don't seem to have any beliefs or principles. I don't see how a vote for Ms. Heitkamp differs all that much from a vote for her Republican rival.

  15. To be fair, politicians don’t seem to have any beliefs or principles, not just Democrats.

  16. The difference is that it may be critical as to whether the leader of the Senate will be a Republican or Democrat. Rather important.

  17. @steve I don’t know, maybe the people who represent my state should, well, represent my state? People (R and D) from North Dakota probably view the world differently than people who live in California or Alabama. The Senator from North Dakota doesn’t necessarily represent the views of someone in California or Virginia. We don’t run the English system where you vote for the party.

  18. Lose a Senate seat or halt the march to making women 2nd class citizens? It's not complicated and the Senator's election outcomes include voting to confirm this sleeper cell of a candidate and losing the Senate anyway; to generalize from Churchill, "You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war".

  19. @JS - Why would women become second class citizens? Every single state legislature would set the rules, and each state has many women voters, probably more than men.

  20. @Jonathan try and avoid d using logic; it’s the end of the world! Women will die by the millions, minorities will Be Legally hunted down! Cats will live with dogs (then the conservativ s will pass laws restricting the right of species to cohabitate)!

  21. Regardless of her vote, she won't be a Senator next year. What's the point in betraying her party, even her gender?

  22. As a resident of ND and strong supporter of Heidi Heitcamp, I’d like to point out that she surely can win this reelection campaign because she is popular with moderates here in her home state. The only way she loses this election is if the more liberal citizens of ND - of which there are very few - abandon her for not being “progressive” enough. Her victory will surely be by a narrow margin, and all democrats need to pull together and make sure she has all the tools necessary to defeat the ultimate tool: Kevin Cramer.

  23. She repeatedly betrays her party.

  24. Who do you think Trump's constitutents are? All of the US or people who voted for him?

  25. Shes got to go. Hope the GOP plows her under. Rather see a Republican win in ND than a Democrat turn coat you can't trust.

  26. @Stina I agree... she has never been a democrat. That 'D' by her name doesn't mean a thing. I'd rather see a moderate republican in that seat than blue-dog dem.

  27. Moderate Republican is an oxymoron.

  28. @AR in NC Her opponent is not a moderate republican. He is on the far far right and approves of everything and anything that Trump does or says. That said, I do wish she would remember that she is a Democrat more often.

  29. "In his campaign, Mr. Cramer, 57, has emphasized his allegiance to Mr. Trump, comparing voting against the president’s agenda with cheating on a spouse." Well, then, I guess the president doesn't mind people voting against his agenda.

  30. It's easy for outsiders to criticize, but all politics are local. Heitkamp holds one of the crucial seats, and she must represent her constituents, not outside critics. Moreover, I agree entirely with her about the opposition to ICE: it is "crazy town." We need Immigration and Customs Enforcement, just not acting according to the nativist policies of a xenophobic president. So let's not root for Republicans, folks. Slash and Burn never works. And on that note, Chuck Schumer made a terrible mistake in putting Gorsuch's nomination on the filibuster line. He was just a replacement for the lamentable Scalia. The present nomination was the place to have that fight, but now the Senate Democrats have no ammunition at hand and nothing to make a real issue.

  31. @Wilton Traveler if she's not going to support the national platform, if you can't count on her vote, how crucial is that seat really? The whole point of having the majority is that voting in lockstep gets your agenda passed (see republicans). If you can't count on the seat to vote reliably it's not really the seat of the party.

  32. The answer here is the the DNC to get off its rear end and mobilize voters. The fact that midterm turnout is an embarrassment in this country can be turned to the country's advantage in this case. Get every person who would vote for a Democrat out to the polls and let the lethargy of the rest of the electorate finish the job for you. The DNC already blew this in a special election in Texas, so I have little faith that they can save themselves this time either. I understand the argument that nothing but a rightwing Democrat can win in some places but if were are to believe Heitkamp's desperate fundraising missives, she is a lost cause anyway, so why not go down with our principles intact? We don't need more Joe Liebermans at this point. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_positions_of_Joe_Lieberman#Domes...

  33. It's past time for Senator Heitkamp to pick a side. Truly, there is no middle ground.

  34. Sen. Heitkamp is in a truly tough spot. She may, in fact, be a fantastic voice for ND. Unfortunately, the national political polarization reaches all the way to the Northern Prairies. I predict she will hem and haw about Kavanaugh before ultimately voting for him. McConnell, love him or hate him, is not stupid. Short some catastrophic revelation on Kananaugh, a vote will be held before the midterm, forcing the hands of the red state Democratic senators. Sen. Heitkamp has plenty of company between that rock and a hard place. Connelly in Indiana, Manchin in WV, McCaskill in Missouri and even Doug Jones in Alabama (even through he's not running) are all playing fast and loose between their constituents and the pull of the left-wingers led by Schumer. In short, I think Kavanaugh is a shoe-in, even if some "moderate Republicans" change their minds.

  35. @Hillary it will get very interesting if the GOP loses one vote. If they stay together the smart vote for the red state Democracts is to vote with the Republicans. Most will probably do that (Tester probably not).

  36. If that premise were true, there would be gun control laws and drug price controls in effect in MANY states already. Politicians represent their donors, period, with the goal of continuing to get re-elected and eventually retire as millionaires, if they weren't already.

  37. @Hillary if Trump really is that popular in ND, Heitkamp is done no matter what. If she votes for Kavanaugh, she loses Dems but will never gain Rs. Conversely, there are no more Ds to gain by not voting for Kavanaugh.

  38. As a liberal from New York City, every quote from Senator Heitkamp in this story makes me want to tear my hair out. I am especially not a fan of Democrats who take money from the Kochs in exchange for voting to deregulate banks or Democrats who tell me that they like Trump except on a few issues here or there. Still, given the stakes in next year's election, pragmatism must prevail over ideology. As long as Heitkamp is willing to vote for a Democrat as Senate Majority Leader next January, party leaders and liberals from outside North Dakota should give her flexibility to vote however she wants to in the Senate until November. Even if that means voting to confirm Kavanaugh.

  39. I don’t vote for my representatives so they can get a second term. I vote for them so that they can represent my and my neighbor’s interests. What is the point of electing representatives so that they can stay in office and do the wrong thing?

  40. But you are not alone in the hood. Fox News might give you the impression you are winning, but they are only dishing out more KoolAid. Not a good argument.

  41. @Kate Svoboda-Spanbock If she represents ND's interests, she may stay in office. If she tries to toe the ideological democrat line as one of ND's senators, she will NOT be re-elected.

  42. Jacalyn - Not sure what presumptions you are making about my political positions or why you are making them, nor can I see why you feel like it is appropriate or even productive to address someone in that manner? As I see it, partisan politics are a practicality at best, or a possibly necessary evil. What we really want is the ability to have some control over the ways in which we govern ourselves. As a practical matter, it is infeasible to expect everyone to put in their two cents about every issue, so, we elect people whose judgment we trust to represent us. For that person to then begin to make judgments on the basis of their political longevity rather than in the interests of their constituents seems to me to circumvent the very purpose for which they were elected. If the matter is of relatively limited impact, then I suppose you could argue that their longevity had a relatively greater importance in some circumstances. But, supreme court justices sit for as long as they want to. No small matter.

  43. With a million pages of Kavanaugh's judicial thoughts available, I'm sure Heitkamp can find enough of his rulings that would negatively impact her constituents and use that to justify voting against him. Especially if he is confirmed anyway.

  44. I wasn't aware that the only issue in the country of concern facing North Dakotans was a Supreme Court pick.

  45. @Randy the price of wheat, soy beans and crude oil too.

  46. who needs enemies with "friends" like her? she should switch her ticket to republican - thats what she is. a moderate, sane republican.

  47. @AshleySo she shouldn’t represent her voters? She should vote no before listening to him or asking him questions?

  48. While I understand some of the frustrations expressed by others in the comments section toward Heitkamp's voting history, I think it should be pointed out that North Dakota isn't the Progressive beacon that California and Minnesota are. Just because she isn't in lockstep with Kamala Harris or Amy Klobuchar doesn't automatically mean that she's as unfit for the Senate as her Republican opponent. Not every Democratic voter has the luxury of residing in a state with as well insulated of a left leaning electorate as some others clearly do. I personally felt the last Democratic candidate for President fell far short of Progressive ideals and ran a campaign that not only ignored but appeared to often even go out of it's way to alienate voters that should have been deemed critical to it's chances for success, but I voted for her anyway due to the fact that her Republican opponent had proved to be a dangerously incompetent candidate. If there ever wasn't a time in history to be setting some arbitrary "Ideological Purity" bar for all Democratic candidates everywhere to meet, it would be right now. Heitkamp, Doug Jones, and Connor Lamb might never make it out of a Democratic primary election in CA or MN, but the ideal and the process of democracy are better served in ND, AL and PA with them where under even more hostile threat with their "If You Like Trump, Then You"ll Just Love Me" cartoon character Republican opponents.

  49. It is "justifications" like hers that shows the real, dangerous, priorities Congresspeople have. They are not doing their job of being a check on the presidency.

  50. Here's some advice, Senator Heitkamp. Do what you think is right in regards to the Supreme Court nomination and let the chips fall where they may. At least you'll be able to defend yourself on moral grounds.

  51. “I think you have to be realistic” -Ms. Dunbar Senator Heitkamp will likely know best how to vote for Kavanaugh, there’s lots of time between now and October when the vote takes place. What’s most important I believe is the Senator be reelected. Whatever it takes. There’s not too much room to maneuver this year for the Senate Democrats, but come 2020 many more Republican seats are up for grabs. Hold what you have for now, win the House in 2018, and then win the Senate back in 2020 along with the Presidency. Congress will then be able to start turning this ship around and get it headed in the right direction. Good luck Senator Heitkeamp.

  52. In Heidi Heitkamp's own words, “(Kavanaugh) seems to be a fairly standard conservative judge, and obviously highly qualified.” I have to ask...what other reasons are needed--other than being "highly qualified"? Ruth Bader Ginsberg: confirmed 96-3 Stephen Breyer: confirmed 87-9 Elena Kagan: confirmed 63-37 Sonya Sotomayor: confirmed 68-31 The confirmation of these 4 sitting justices--who were recognized as liberals at the time of their confirmations, garnered significant support from Republicans. If Heitkamp bows to the pressures of radical left-wing Democrats, and votes against Kavanaugh--given his universally recognized accomplishments, and unquestionable merit, the people of North Dakota have every right to unceremoniously boot her from office. Given that she already voted against giving her constituents a tax cut, it's pretty much a forgone conclusion anyway. Good riddance Heidi.

  53. @Jesse The Conservative As I recall Obama's nominee did not get a chance to be voted on thanks to Mitch McConnell. We need a balanced Supreme court, not one of extreme right wing political appointees.

  54. @Joseph B President Obama never nominated a conservative. The Senate advises they were withholding consent.

  55. @Joseph B There's no recalling about it. The Republicans flat out lied and cheated their way into Kavanaugh. With a perverse President at the helm, today's Trumpublicans are hitting a new all time low, every hour, every day.

  56. Betting on Trump isn’t a good option for anyone, even her.

  57. A vote to weaken Roe is not redeemable, no matter if you’re a D or an R. This is not a partisan flap, this is an existential crisis.

  58. Perhaps the issue for the good people of North Dakota is do they want a candidate who supports a serial liar, philanderer, and traitor to his own country selling out to Putin's Russia.

  59. I hope Heidi Heitcamp kicks in, and shows them ND voters the truth.

  60. North Dakota should not even be a state. it would take the combined population of 70 north dakota's to equal the population of California, and many more to match California's economic value. North Dakota's population and economy would even warrant a footnote if it were part of California. and there are 3 republican states with less population and economic value than north dekota, and about 2 dozen republican states with not much more. and each of these so called states have 2 senators. talk about a bad deal!!!

  61. ND doesn't need Venezuelan Socialism lies. It needs support for the people who work to make money to provide for themselves, and their communities. Under Obama, and the Socialist Dem's self sufficiency's are replaced by Your Entitled. This is anathematic.

  62. Kagan, Sotomajor, and Ginsburg all got over 60 votes in the Senate, notwithstanding their obviously liberal ideologies and Democratic Party allegiance. If Senator Heitkamp is really a centrist, she will honor the Senate's tradition of confirming well-qualified candidates. Yes, I know McConnell broke with that tradition. That's no excuse of doing further damage. "He did it first" is what you expect to hear from children. Adults should know better.

  63. @Cynical JackI do not think so they broke it first and they should get a taste of it too that is what Trump would do

  64. @Cynical Jack Unfortunately, the Democrats always play the adults to the Republican children – and the children are winning, Lord of the Flies style.

  65. Any alleged "Democrat," any senator, even any woman who says "...Look, I like the president," well...she's lost my vote. Might as well let a Republican take her seat. You LIKE this president?! Case closed, cause lost in ND.

  66. God bless America.

  67. Just do the right thing Heidi. Vote as a woman protecting women.

  68. @Eva lockhart Gosh, don't recall that as a responsibility of a United States Senator. I thought their responsibility was to look out for the state's interest.

  69. @Mark Crawford No women in the State of ND?

  70. Red state dems, and for that matter blue state republicans, don't get to be picky. You take the best option you can get, and if that's a centrist member of your party, that's a huge victory. National dems, and the Sanders wing in particular, need to back off Manchin and Heitkamp on issues that will get them in trouble. Let them be smart, reasonable people with different views.

  71. Realistically, what are the chances of blocking Kavanaugh's nomination if that requires at least 1 GOP senator to break rank? I'd say under 10%. And if it should happen Trump would simply nominate another Kavanaugh, except worse, just out of spite. So I really don't see the point of this fight. In this process I can see only 1 positive action DEMs can take. Use it to get Kavanaugh on record. Ask him every tough question in the book. Let the American people see exactly what they are going to get as a new Justice. Then move on. November 2018 is too important to sacrifice for a hopeless fight like this.

  72. One online news agency reports that Sen. Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, has a meeting set with Mr. Kavanaugh next week. This fight is not going well for the Democrats.

  73. Ms. Dunbar, though well-intentioned, is typical of why Democrats always fold. If the base of the Democratic Party doesn't hold its candidates to account, why should the candidates ever stay firm and do the right thing?

  74. I don't get it. If you can't stand up on the biggest issues, what's the point of being a Democrat?

  75. @Clyde She's a Republican in a "Moderate" disguise. She's morally adrift and doesn't seem to have a strategy.

  76. @Clyde she stood up on ACA repeal and the tax bill scam--no Repub would have done that.

  77. @Clyde The point is to help the Democratic ideals in the long run. To maintain a Democratic seat that counts towards the numbers in the Democratic Senate that might give the Dems majority control of that body so they can work towards giving us back the country that we all believe in rather than this Republican MAGA claptrap that's despoiling our great nation. Besides, Heitkamp has not said she would vote for Kavanuagh, only that she would meet with him. Meeting does not equal casting a vote for him. Her voting against Kavanaugh would most likely be a pyhrric victory at best without some Republicans doing likewise.

  78. Instead of criticizing Sen. Heitkamp, it would be better for Democrats nationwide to show that they have her back if she does the right thing, and opposes Kavanaugh. That means donating, committing to phone banking, and even traveling to North Dakota to knock on doors and turn out the vote. Why criticize her for meeting with Kavanaugh? It's only sensible for her to do this, to avoid making herself an easy target for ads that could sway moderates. She's smart to hold her cards close to the vest, so she can say that she considered Kavanaugh's nomination carefully before she votes against him. Dems need to stop being a circular firing squad.

  79. It's interesting that other comments demanding Senator Heitkamp vote one way or the other on Kavanaugh get much higher recommendations than yours. But what you say is the real answer. The Senator will make her decision, but what is needed is people on the ground willing to do the hard work of building and maintaining support!

  80. One of the worst amendments to the constitution is the 17th as it turned senate seats into political footballs. Prior to the 17th amendment, Senators were elected by the legislators in their state and were beholden to statewide interests - including protecting the sovereignty of their state. Yes, there were political hacks and shenanigans, but by and large the rights of the states were preserved. Heidi is a prime example of why the 17th amendment is a disaster for America. She puts her responsibility to localities ahead of the states, and as evidenced by some of the other comments here, puts gender or race ahead of he interests of the state.

  81. Why do people who come from such far-flung areas dominate and control the United States? It's probably because of a fundamental structural flaw in the Constitution, to wit, the fact that wee, tiny states like North Dakota are allocated the same number of Senators as the large and super-large States (e.g., California, Texas, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois). We're a Republic, for sure, not a pure democracy, but my Lord how the rest of us suffer for it.

  82. Mr. Cramer Represents the Republican party, not the people of North Dakota if he votes as a lapdog for the New Yorker Trump and his city empire financial industry. I'm guessing Senator Heitkamp is reading these comments and I have something important for her to know as well as the rest of Congressional democrats; If Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed as the next Supreme Court Justice, America will cease to be a democracy in practice and reality. His appointment will create a super monopoly single party lock step voting government with Congress becoming a mere rubber stamp for White House programs and the Supreme Court will be a rubber stamp as well. I think Mr. Cramer's claim that he will serve Trump over the people of his state is actually an honest indicator of what I wrote. Judge Kavanaugh is partisan, has been involved in partisan fights, and believes in absolute power approaching monarchy for a President, Republican at this time. Trump is Republican. The Congress will hold absolute Republican power over legislation, and the Supreme court majority that has demonstrated partisan lock step decisions by Republican appointees for Republican actions before the Court. Senator Heitkamp; it is imperative that you remember we are threatened as a nation, not just you in a single state campaign. You need to be telling your constituents that the nation is poised for a Constitutional crisis like never before in which the Constitution is rendered obsolete and void in practice.

  83. @Shakinspear I agree with almost all your points, especially re the effect of Kavanaugh on SCOTUS should we win appointment. However, Heitkamp is a Democratic seat in the Senate in addition to being a vote. She is on of 49 Democratic Senators. Should she lose her Senate seat, the Dems would have yet another seat to gain in the Senate in order to obtain majority and control that body. Kavanaugh should not be seated on the Supreme Court for many reasons, but as of the numbers right now, Heitcamp's vote for or against the judge doesn't look like it's going to make a difference in the outcome. We don't know how she is going to vote. All we know is that she is willing to meet with him. It is not only a matter of her trying to save her own seat, but the larger matter of trying to obtain a majority in the Senate. Is it better to throw yourself on the sword of purity for a losing cause (Kavanauugh is going to be appointed unless a Republican or two votes no), or to accept fate and stay in the Senate to fight the next 10 battles? Political and moral purity are fine ideals in a vacuum, but in the real world, one has to look at the larger picture of all the ideals and values and which we might be able to win.

  84. She’s a DINO. So we really don’t have 49 Democrats in the Senate, we only have 46 at best. If the tables were turned and it was republicans with only 49 senators, you could be assured that not one of them would vote for a judge nominated by a president who was a democrat. Until the Democrats wake up to who they are up against then they will continue to lose.

  85. Senator Heitkamp is representing the people of North Dakota, not the many readers represented here. I fear that Democratic voters will become as ideologically rigid as Republican politicians and voters—always in lockstep, with no room for discretion or breaking rank. I don’t want our party to become that. I want us to continue to be a big tent where we accept conservative and liberal Democrats and everything in between. Our party’s openness is why I became a Democrat. Besides, if Democratic voters had kept their eyes on the prize, then we wouldn’t be playing brinksmanship with the Supreme Court now. That’s not Heidi Heitkamp’s fault, it’s ours.

  86. Two republicans need to be turned and if you can't absolutely guarantee that and their senate reelection don't ask them to fall on their spear for nothing. I would rather bet on the slim chance of retaking the senate than a needless slaughter over a supremes battle that may be Pyrrhic at best. And lose a senate seat or two. Brooklyn bubbilites who demand fealty to their orthodoxy or else don't see the same world she sees from the cab of a tractor. A combine breaks down during harvest and you are not calling tech support down the hall to fix it. She has to bring this harvest in by herself, and your absolutist views are of no help.

  87. The Democrats can't win the Kavanaugh fight directly. But they can tie the Congress up in knots. The National Flood Insurance Program needs to be reauthorized by July 31, 2018 or it will cease to exist. It's up to the Democrats to filibuster the NFIP reauthorization (which requires 60 votes, unlike a judicial appointment) until Trump withdraws the name of Judge Kavanaugh for the SCOTUS vacancy.

  88. @Roget T Right now the nation is deluged and flooded in your parts and up and down the east coast you want suicide by filibustering flood insurance? Are you a secret Putinista? Was you around when this drizzle called Sandy hit N.Y.?

  89. @Roget T The Republican ads will write themselves and hit the airwaves during flood/hurricane season...right before the midterms. no?

  90. If she is torn between doing the right thing and appeasing trump voters, no wonder she has a headache. For a change, I'd like to see Democrats in red areas stop triangulating and stand for something. They will be rewarded for it. If they lean over backwards to appease Republican voters who won't switch anyway, they risk some of their natural supporters staying home.

  91. Uff da. And so harsh with the whole shouldn’t-be-a-state Buffalo Commons argument. Here’s the thing: Representing North Dakota has never been a straightforward task. ND is a very rural state that’s very intertwined with global ag and energy markets, has a namesake movie where people are put through a wood chipper, and has never been anyone’s darling unless you’re into blinding snowstorms. My Osh Kosh overall wearing grandfather farmed through the dust bowl and for decades afterwards and eventually paid for my spendy out of state liberal arts degree. He was a proud member of the Nonpartisan League that represented North Dakotan’s interests above all. That prideful spirit lives on today. As a native North Dakotan who’s lived all over the country I’m still not convinced that the bloodlust Rep and Dem opposition that exists in other states actually exists in ND. Go Heidi!

  92. When is the last time you were in Nodak? Believe me, the "bloodlust" is as palpable there as anywhere else in the country. The state legislature is loaded with alt right conservatives who want to repeal ALL abortion rights. That is the biggest issue driving NoDak voters in the US Senate race. I left that state because of the political/cultural climate change of the 1990s.

  93. Senator Heitkamp represents North Dakota, not California, New York, or any other Blue State. She was voted in because she knows her constituents' needs. I may be liberal and pro-choice, but I have no right to either judge her or dictate to her MY positions. She knows what she is doing, so we need to give her space and respect her policies. She is not betraying the Democratic Party just because she prioritizes certain issues which are more relevant to her electorate. At this point, we Democrats need to step back and support our candidates in all states. This has been a long horrible 18 months not only because of Trump but also because of his weak-spined, do-nothing Republican Congress. Good luck, Heidi. I have your back.

  94. @Kathy Lollock Well said!

  95. Just sent my note to her asking her to vote no on Kavanaugh. If you can write comment here, you can write a note to her.

  96. Honeybee - We're all Americans. We're all in this together. Her decision affects me, just as it affects you. I write regularly to the White House and my representatives. But time to time I write to other legislators too, especially committee heads who focus on specific topics. It's my right to speak and be heard by our civil servants.

  97. @J Jencks It's certainly your right to speak, but not necessarily to be heard.

  98. What's wrong with writing a note? The senator can see where it's coming from and take that into consideration. Civic engagement is a positive good and should be encouraged, not stifled.

  99. Come on now. Give it a rest. Heitkamp, Donnelly, Manchin and McCaskill are toast. Sherrod Brown is hanging by a thread, for God's sake. There's talk of Stabenow being defeated. In Michigan! It is Trump Country for sure - the faster nyt comes to grips with reality, the better it is for the country.

  100. Heitkamp = DINO. The way she responded to the Standing Rock debacle was 100% shameful and racist. She votes with Republicans often, and on key issues. She deserves to lose.

  101. Far from a dilemma for Heitkamp, it's really simple. Does she vote against the nominee who's anti-abortion, anti-democracy, and not Garland, and not get reelected? Or does she betray America to try to court the covfefeans of her state, realize that they share their dotard-demigod's knack for unrequited loyalty, and not get reelected? If she'll lose either way, she may as well go down fighting. Kathy Lollock here says "This has been a long horrible 18 months not only because of ["covfefe"] but also because of his weak-spined, do-[worse-than-]nothing Republican Congress." To demand that Heitkamp do the right thing, even outside of her state, is something you DO have a right to do, and to do otherwise—or for her to defy Americans and legitimize a second Thief Justice, just for wrong-wing votes she won't get—is the very definition of "weak-spined".

  102. The NYTIMES should not isolate her as the "deciding vote". It is unfair because you are putting an unequal burden on her in an attempt to pressure her to vote against him. You should let her decide without exerting political pressure on her. You are being little tyrants to undermine her independence.

  103. We expect our young soldiers to risk their lives for the nation, but we are asked not to expect our politicians to risk their sits for our nation and our planet.

  104. she's close to Canada so she could cast a negative vote, hightail it back to north Dakota, get to the border and apply for political asylum in Canada.

  105. RE: “He literally is gluing himself to this president, saying, ‘If you like the president, then vote for me,’” Ms. Heitkamp said of Mr. Cramer She does not know the meaning of literally.

  106. I read a lot of comments mentioning Sen. Heitkamp's relevance for the Washington D.C. scene and her vote for the supreme court nominee, as if that's all that matters for her political role. We must remember that she is the senator for North Dakota, a small state many of us don't known very well and a place that she seeks to represent well, much like Sen. Collins of Maine. Long gone are the days when the notion of local politics actually mattered to the American political discourse. It's time to realize that the whole country is not a coastal city or the beltway bubble, but comprised of many diverse communities that need representation for their unique individual issues. Coming from a small state myself, I still marvel at my blue state's support of our Republican governor, but he represents our state well and works in a bipartisan manner. Yes, this era of Trump is cringe-worthy awful, but political change begins at the local level. This is where things get done. Research your local candidates for school boards, state houses, town councils etc and vote for qualified people who will enact that change and pursue democracy. Also get involved in your community! This is where Senator Heitkamp started. In the meantime, I wish Sen. Heiktamp well in her bid to represent North Dakota.

  107. If this North Dakota senator is responsible to future generations, she will vote against Judge Kavanaugh. She should know of the North Dakota legislator Brynhild Haugland who served in the North Dakota legislature for decades for 52 years. Would Ms. Haugland vote for Kavanaugh if she were alive? No way, since Kavanaugh is against all of the principles that Ms. Haugland stood for. And Senator Heitkamp, you best follow Ms. Haugland's example.

  108. Any Democrat who plans to vote for Kavanaugh should immediately resign. If Democrats feels it is "reasonable" to support yet another arch conservative Supreme Court pic, I think it is reasonable to assume we now have a one party system of government. What is the point in voting for Democrats who act and vote exactly like Republicans? We are helping them hang on to their precious seats but for what purpose exactly?

  109. Would you rather lose the seat to a Republican? Like it or not, Judge Kavanaugh will be approved: it’s not a hill for Democrats to die on.

  110. Where is the hill? How did the appeasement policy go with Hitler?

  111. Heidi's priority, of course, is to get herself reelected for another term as an obscure, insignificant senator. In the meantime, she has a vote on a Supreme Court nominee who can be expected to help make big decisions for the next thirty years. I've learned enough about Heidi now to realize how typically senatorial her choice to vote for Kavanaugh will be: "It's all about me." Maybe she really does belong in the Trump camp. Poor North Dakota!

  112. Really, I should have said "Poor U.S." Sadly, this nomination will be decided for all of us by a handful of senate members whose voting calculus will resemble Heidi's. Some "check and balance"!

  113. @jei It's a lot better than most other countries (like China) where the court is determined by the dictators.

  114. @Amy Way to use at least two logical fallacies in a failed attempt to debate. Because other places fail in human rights and justice hardly excuses a U.S. descent into cruelty and injustice. Also, we know the Current Occupant got into office with foreign assistance, and he appears to have committed several crimes during his campaign and while holding office. As yet, no one seems to be able to do anything to remove him, so that sounds a bit dictator-ish, to me. If Senator Heidi cannot vote against a bigoted SCOTUS nominee promoted by the Federalist Society without fear of losing her job, she needs to step off. Working people have had enough of hand-wringing from people who should be taking action.

  115. Headache? Why doesn't the speak out what she stands for? Opposing Trump. Opposing his stupid dangerous and anti-human policies. A bit more honesty. A little bit more courageous. Please.

  116. @peter Yes, voting against her true opinions doesn't say much for her integrity.

  117. @peter You may want to look into her ads! She's busy trying to convince the voters in ND that she stands/votes with Trump...

  118. Perhaps she should join the Republican Party since she is unreliable in key votes. Can’t have it both ways.

  119. The problem with Supreme Court nominee voting is that it’s supposed to be based on qualifications for the position, not politics. That puts senators in a tough position with nominees like Gorsuch and Kanavaugh, but at least since Bork and the hard right turn of the GOP, “qualifications” have started to encompass more than intelligence and capability. It’s fair to ask in this case whether precedent will be respected, and call it part of his qualifications, because respect for precedent is a bedrock part of our legal system. Overturning long-standing law has not been, and should not be, done lightly. The potential impact on the health of women should Roe be overturned is of major significance, but no nominee is going to admit they plan to overturn a particular case, or even give his/her opinion about the topic. Tough position for Dems, but the impact of overturning Roe is great enough that, at the least, he should be grilled about it from every angle.

  120. I appreciate the senator’s dilemma, but she needs to demand that the senate be able to review Kavanaugh’s extensive document trail before deciding. Senator Heitkamp is unlikely to win any Trump supporters over by voting for Kavanaugh. She’s far more likely to lose the support of activist Democrats by caving in. Vote with values, not with pundits.

  121. @Josh Wilson She can only stay in office by winning over a lot of conservatives; there aren't enough dem votes in ND to keep her in office (she's the only dem elected statewide in about a dozen years). I believe she will extensively review his record and if she believes he's qualified, she'll vote to confirm him. She voted for Gorsuch for the very same reasons.

  122. There are probably less activist Democrats in ND than Republicans, and if she does something those activist Democrats don’t like, it’s not like they have anyone else they can vote for ....

  123. There are 50 Republicans in the Senate during McCain’s absence and Mike Pence is ready to cast the deciding vote. It doesn’t matter what Heitkamp does, Kavanaugh is in unless the Dems figure out a way to delay the vote past November (and then, obviously, regain control of the Senate). If you don’t want Republicans picking and confirming SCOTUS justices, get out and vote and make sure others do as well. In every election.

  124. @Jeff That's what we did, we didn't want liberal democrats picking justices so we elected Trump. I made sure I went and voted and encouraged others.

  125. @Jeff only if your conscience tells you that Kevin Cramer ought to be in the Senate. It's a prospect nearly as terrifying has having the current occupant in the White House.

  126. Easy: follow your conscience for once. Problem solved.

  127. Do the right thing Heitkamp. Otherwise, you might as well resign from the Democratic Party, because you are not one.

  128. in the business world there is a saying: if we always agree mm one of us is unnecessary. if the test is going to be voting with party leaders100% then we should go to a parliamentary system.

  129. I'll wager she'll cave and vote to confirm Kavanaugh. She cares more about keeping her job than anything else. Another spineless politician.

  130. Cramer says...."I don’t have to apologize for my political affiliations — including the president of the United States.” You will one day soon...and for both.

  131. Ms Heitkamp, The vote for or against Mr. Cavanaugh is about what is right for the American people and for American women especially, and not for only North Dakotans. It's not about your political career. Vote what is right the supreme court for all Americans. Respectfully, Sally Olivier

  132. @Sally Olivier That means vote for him to stay within the constitutional duties for nominations.

  133. Our nation needs more members of Senate and Congress who live and vote for centrist policies, whether they align with the GOP or the Dems. Neither Sen. Warren nor Sen. Cruz would not get elected dog-catcher in many states, so lets all act as adults and recognize that idealogical purity is a poor measure of someone's worth to be in Congress.

  134. Do what's right for the Supreme Court and do what's right for North Dakota farmers. They may thank you for opposing Trump's trade wars.

  135. I would move to ND in a heartbeat. It was just named as the best state in the US for seniors, thanks to comparatively low cost of living, low crime rate, and presence of real communities and social cohesion. Few other states meet those criteria, and NONE of the liberal elite coastal states do.

  136. @me I've lived in California all of my life, my father, a physician, my mom a scientist at the Salk Institute - and NEVER, EVER have I considered myself elite. Quit using words a lying, draft-dodging, groper gave to you. Liberal - generous, thoughtful, careful with words and deeds. This is something your president knows nothing about.

  137. @Honeybee You've sided with the name-caller, Honeybee. Should I recreate the list for you?

  138. @me Have you ever been to North Dakota? I've lived in eight states, so I have some basis for comparison, and I am still, ten years on, amazed by how backward-looking, white-male-centric, and government-dependent most North Dakotans are. I'm seventy, and I don't find any great economic or social benefit to living in a state where housing might be somewhat cheaper than elsewhere, but heating a house like ours, which was built in the 1880s, is wildly expensive when it's thirty below zero and the Northwest wind reaches forty miles an hour. Those "best places for seniors" use an algorithm that comes up with totally wacky recommendations, and North Dakota is "best place in the US for seniors" only if you've never been here. I love the landscape; I love my mate; I love living on a farm with horses and dogs and chickens, but it's a daily struggle to find even one person whose political beliefs are in any way similar to my own. I'm reacting so hotly because all these comments are coming from people who know nothing about the state, its politics, the line Senator Heitkamp has to walk, or how completely incompetent and moronic her opponent is.

  139. Hey Heidi, It best to follow what your constituents need. These tariffs will cause a issue and make farmers lose their farms. Your constituents need healthcare and the GOP along with Kavanaugh will take that away.

  140. Watch Schumer and Pelosi do everything in their poser to delay the hearings and vote on Kavanaugh until after the November mid term elections. However they may be shooting themselves in the foot if Republicans can make inroads in the elections in the states that Trump won, but which are represented by Democrats in the Senate.

  141. I agree with other commenters. Do the right thing, Heitkamp! Do the right thing! Don't forget about the border...parents sent back without their children, who they may never see again. Don't forget about Putin and his hold on our country, our voting freedoms, our water and air and electric grids. Don't forget about the lies and those who lie for the liar. Don't forget about bone spurs, groping, lying, Charlottesville and nazi sympathizing, honoring hostile leaders, praising the hate-speakers on fox entertainment... Do the right thing.

  142. So the story is that Heitkamp should vote yes on Kavanugh so she doesn't lose her seat. But...Kavanugh is going to help overturn Roe V. Wade. How happy are Heitkamp's supporters going to be when that happens?

  143. The system is crazy and geared towards minority rule. ND has 755,000 people and they get 2 senators. So that is 1 senator for every 337,500 people; therefore, for it to be fair Pennsylvania would need to have 37 senators and for California it would be 117. The least that we would could to do is to get rid of the Electoral College so that 1 vote equals 1 vote. That is not asking too much out of a democracy.

  144. The House of Representatives is population-based, and since both of them have to pass any new laws, I think it’s a decent compromise. The electoral college is a wreck and I think it should be abolished because 1 person 1 vote makes a lot of sense for a single election, but for people from rural states like North Dakota or Montana or West Virginia to have their needs addressed by the federal government, the legislature has to be in part unbalanced. So for something to pass in the Senate, it can’t ignore “flyover states,” but to pass in the House, it can’t ignore urban states. Gerrymandering, especially by Republicans, has undermined the ability of the House to function that way, but that’s a different issue.

  145. @Darryl We don't have a democracy, we have a representative republic. It was purposely designed so that more populous states couldn't strongarm smaller one. That said, it would be nice if rural states would shut off Fox News and read a book sometime.

  146. @Darryl The constitution was written to prevent majorities with very different values from abusing the minorities. The states can adapt to this by having different laws, and the people can adapt by moving. Very SIMPLE!!!

  147. The specific issue most discussed around Judge Kavanaugh's nomination is his position on Roe v Wade and reproductive freedom. The Time article ignores that. The first comments in this section raised this issue, but it seems to have disappeared thereafter. According to Planned Parenthood, N Dakota is an abortion desert (e.g., ,it is 200 miles from some Bismark ND to Fargo, ND home of the state's only abortion provider). In addition, ND law mandates procedures that place significant and to me abusive burdens on women seeking abortions; see https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/planned-parenthood-north-dakota-... It seems clear that Senator Heitkamp will have to vote for Judge Kavanaugh to avoid the wrath of the majority of NDakotans. Let's hope instead she chooses to vote to maintain the basic (and constitutional) human right of self determination in the USA.

  148. As a New Yorker, it’s of course not for me to say but I believe she should vote as every senator should: in a way that best represents the will of the majority of her constituents. I don’t know how anyone could disagree with that premise

  149. @David Anton--Generally speaking, I agree with you. On the other hand, being a Senator puts her into a position of leadership. So is she a leader of her community, or merely a mouthpiece for it? Seems to me that she, and every other Senator, needs to listen to her constituents, then make what she believes is the best decision for them and the country as a whole, and then communicate her reasoning in a way that, ideally, here constituents, even those who would have preferred a different vote, can respect. I call that Leadership.

  150. @David Anton I do, on confirmations you are not to play politics, but advise and consent. So in this case since he is highly qualified no advice is required, just consent. It used to be this way before arrogant progressives changed the process.

  151. Senator Heitkamp's dilemma exemplifies the problem of a minority party. We can't play if we don't win. There is a difference between Dems and Republicans including the power that comes from Congressional majorities. Imagine that Dems had the majority now. There would be no Kavanaugh nomination (no Pruitt or Zinke either). Majorities and principles are required to govern well.

  152. North Dakota is in mid America and they are known for having conservative values. They voted for President Trump because they wanted to see change and were not happy with the results of the Obama administration that was thrust upon them. If she wants to be reelected, she would be wise to vote yes for Brett Kavanaugh being elected to the Supreme Court. President Trump won this state over Hillary Clinton by 36 points and she should not dismiss this fact.

  153. @WPLMMT She should vote for him because that is her duty under the constitution, not for politics. He is highly competent, has promised to uphold the constitution, it should be very soon.

  154. @WPLMMT Trump may have won my tiny State by 36 points, but I like to point out that more voters gave Hillary their vote in ND than the total margin Trump got over Clinton in the three States that mattered; Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. But, to the ill-informed 'base', Trump won a landslide mandate.

  155. She is the poster child for what stinks about the Dems. Caves all the time to the Republicans, is entrenched, caters to moneyed interests, and sells out the common man. Losing her wont mean squat where it really counts.

  156. @Spook, there are a lot more red states than blue states thanks to idiots who won't move off the coasts. but all states get 2 senators each no matter how sparse the population. between that and the electoral college, I'm not sure how democrats will ever maintain any majorities in any branches of govt. if they can't win in red states. they have to represent people who are different from large cities and the coasts. for the love of god, get smart people.

  157. The last time the Democrats ran in fear of Republicans in the 2014 mid-terms and as "Republican-lite" they all lost giving Republicans control of the Senate. Remember two Democratic women senators in red states who tried to play it safe--Kay Hagan in North Carolina and Mary Landrieu in Louisiana? I didn't think you would. But, Sen. Heitkamp would do well to think about them. Voters always respect people who have principles and don't run from them, especially when they count. There are excellent reasons to oppose the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanuagh to the Supreme Court and there are reams of material that will, or should be, released indicating important issues such as claims that he may have perjured himself the last time he testified in Congress and swore that he was not involved in controversial Bush policies like torture. Sen. Heitkamp would be wise to say she is awaiting his testimony in the Senate before making a decision, but she must also tell the voters she's willing to vote "no" if she finds the evidence compelling.

  158. America is facing a crisis. It is not Democrats vs Republicans. It is Democracy vs Autocracy. Trump/GOP are on course to turn America into Autocracy; rights ripped from the people. If it happens; the chance of coming back to Democracy are slight. The choice; freedom or slavery under Trump/GOP. Ray Sipe

  159. @Ray Sipe How foolish, the constitution will be upheld and that means Autocracy is not happening.

  160. As a rare ND progressive, I have come to terms with Sen. Heitkamp's practical approach to ND politics. I often disagree with her, but the alternative, sniveling Trump lickspittle Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-Koch Brothers), represents Harold Hamm and other Texas and Oklahoma oil barons, not ND citizens. At the state level, governance is by an entrenched GOP super-majority. I pick Heitkamp to try to get the state to incrementally move left, toward the center.

  161. With Democrats like Heitkamp, who needs Republicans? If Roe vs Wade gets overturned, I foresee that women will form activist groups like the Jane Collective to provide safe abortion services for women in need. I can’t believe that this is the future I am contemplating in 2018.

  162. @Eleni And what would be wrong with that? If some states ban abortion (I doubt that would happen for many years) then charity is a great option.

  163. Ms. Heitkamp seems to suffer from the same disease as most democrats: lack of conviction. Why do democrats keep losing? They don't stand for anything. Politics isn't just about measuring political winds, sometimes you have to stand up and say "this isn't right" even if it's unpopular. For me, personally, I loathe any politician that flops in the wind and doesn't seem to have any particular position to stand for. I and many other Americans are waiting for someone, anyone, to stand up and say enough, to posit the necessary changes to make our country better even though there's a risk of political backlash. Voters don't turn out for wishy-washy politicians, they turn out for leaders. Obama was the last good democratics leader. Still waiting for the next one to show up.

  164. Did I miss something, or what exactly does Senator Heitkamp stand for?!

  165. Kavanaugh will be on the Supreme Court long after Heitkamp's political career is over. That's why ALL Democrats need to oppose him.

  166. @Matt Or since he is highly qualified and will follow the constitution all Dems should vote for him.

  167. Too bad Heidi voted with the Republicans. Yet I understand that you cannot make a difference if you don't get re-elected in the first place. I am hoping that Heidi will vote her conscience once she is re-elected. There is nothing of substance that the Republicans favor when it comes to the ordinary citizen. And in North Dakota, like most parts of the country, there are more ordinary citizens than not, rural or city. Heidi just needs to harp on what affects North Dakota and its citizens most. I would guarantee Trump's and the Republican agenda will hurt them most. If Heidi sticks to local concerns she should get elected. As far as the Supreme Court nominee, Heidi is right to play it close to the vest. She does not know enough about the nominee to make a commitment. Patrick Leahy hopefully gets his wish to fully vet Kavanaugh, before a vote is taken. That should take long enough that a vote will not be taken until after the mid-term election. Good luck to Heidi.

  168. Since they are basically puppets of the far left leadership of the Democratic party, they have long odds of being re-elected. They should vote for the nominee based on his qualifications for the job under the constitution, not on the ideals or Schumer or anybody else.

  169. Blanche Lincoln, May Landrieu, Kay Hagan. Run as a Republican Lite and expect to lose. Either advocate and defend the core principles of your party, and win or lose on them, or wishy-washy your positions for whatever way the wind is blowing and lose in abject indignity.

  170. Ms. Heitkamp is in a tough situation during this election. If she votes for Kavanaugh, some will not vote for her. If she doesn't vote for Kavanaugh, many will not vote for her. If she's lucky, Kavanaugh's nomination will be put off until November.

  171. If Heidi Haitkamp continues to vote Republican, her seat might just as well go to a Republican. She needs an ethics bypass operation. All she cares about is keeping her job, and she's doing a poor one, by defying the so-called tenets of her party. What good is she doing? She may be one of those Dems who needs to go, to save the party. Give ND a stronger, more nasty taste of Republicanism, and the next election will be a Democratic somebody we can trust, preferably a "moderate" progressive, with a conscience. There should be an observable difference between the parties. You should be able to tell your players without a scorecard. Boo hiss.