Watching Republicans whip themselves into a frenzy over the FBI executing a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago, I can’t help but think we witnessed similar tantrums just months ago.
Much of the punditry surrounding the GOP’s ugly treatment of Ketanji Brown Jackson during her confirmation hearings missed the mark. The people framing their sick behavior as mere retribution for the way Democrats treated Justice Brett Kavanaugh were being short-sighted. The people framing it as a petty feud, the latest in a decadeslong, bipartisan spat over Supreme Court picks, were being too obtuse.
In reality, the slimy, petulant and hateful questions directed at Jackson are inseparable from Republicans' slimy, petulant and hateful reactions to the Trump “raid.” Both are declarations from the GOP that law enforcement exists to inflict harm upon their perceived enemies and to protect their friends.
Recall, for example: Despite their claims being discredited by law enforcement groups, right-wing lawmakers honed in on a message that Jackson was too lenient on crime. To make this demonstrably false claim, Republicans cherry-picked examples of Jackson declining to issue the most stringent sentences possible in some criminal cases, and they also targeted her work as a public defender.
The message was clear: Some people don't deserve a fair justice system.
Republicans' collective outrage over the Mar-a-Lago search, and the seizure of GOP Rep. Scott Perry’s phone, builds upon that antidemocratic theory with another message: Some people are above the law. We’re seeing many of the same people who’ve denounced supposed lawlessness in cities run by Democrats — in fact, many of the people who screamed that Jackson was soft on crime — whining because law enforcement wasn’t soft on a few of their own. And we’re witnessing Republicans feign outrage over a “sitting member of Congress” having his phone temporarily seized, as though these lawmakers are unimpeachable.
It’s the “rules for thee, not for me” principle. And it’s the most unifying belief in the conservative movement today.