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Conservatives' takeover is complete. Who cares? 

For many of us, the past week has been terrible, with one awful bit of Supreme Court news followed by another followed by Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement announcement.

Kennedy has been a crucial swing vote, a conservative who sometimes sided with the court's liberal justices. He did that 51 times, according to the New York Times, and he provided the deciding vote endorsing same-sex marriage, striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, and upholding Roe v. Wade.

But Kennedy also cast some exceptionally destructive votes, joining the majority in the case that handed the presidency to George Bush, in the pro-gun-rights case District of Columbia V. Heller, and in Shelby County v. Holder, which has led to more restrictions on voting rights.

Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in Citizens United, which further widened the doors to excessive campaign contributions.

And he was no help in the term that just ended. He was in the conservative majority on key cases involving labor union fees, the Trump travel ban, and Ohio's practice of removing people from voter rolls.

Now President Trump will nominate Kennedy's successor. The Republicans in the Senate will control the outcome of the confirmation vote. And we know what to expect from each.

Trump and Republicans in the Senate (with very few exceptions) are not interested in protecting women's reproductive rights. They're won't protect the separation of church and state. They've been perfectly willing to erode LGBTQ rights and the rights of people of color. So have the four remaining conservatives on the Supreme Court. And after the president nominates and the Republican Senate confirms a new justice, Roe v. Wade and numerous other important decisions will be jeopardy.

This, of course, is what the 2016 presidential election was about, in large part. And this is what the 2018 midterm elections – in very large part – are about. I wonder, though, how many people care.

In last week's local Democratic Congressional primary – for the high-profile seat formerly occupied by the late Louise Slaughter – just under 20 percent of registered Democrats in Slaughter's district turned out to vote.

Twenty percent.

Slaughter's death was major news for days. Four people got enough signatures on petitions to run for the Democratic Party nomination to succeed her. The Republican Party has nominated a strong candidate. All of that was widely covered by local news media. There were two televised debates among the Democrats.

Meantime, the Trump presidency and the actions of the institutions that can serve as the counter-weights to a strong president – the Supreme Court, the Senate, and the House of Representatives – have also been receiving day-to-day coverage.

And in Monroe County, New York, in a primary to choose a candidate for a crucial House seat, just under 20 percent of eligible voters cared enough to vote. Voter turnout this year hasn't been much better in most other parts of the country.

During the campaign, Democratic candidate Rachel Barnhart sent daily reports to the people on her email list, talking about voters she had met as she campaigned door to door. In one of her last emails before the election, Barnhart said she had met people "who didn't even know there was a primary."

Didn't even know there was a primary? What planet in the universe could those people have been living on?
After Barack Obama's election and re-election, I was hopeful. If the country could embrace a moderately progressive African American as its president, we were on the right path.

But that was then. And now, the news about the Supreme Court this past week has left me with questions: What is the sentiment of this country? Does Donald Trump reflect it? Does the conservative majority on the current Supreme Court reflect it?

How on earth would we know? If voter turnout is any indication, most Americans don't care about this stuff.

Happy Fourth of July.

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