Next time you see her name on a ballot, #RememberThe54.

From beyond the gravestone of her single term, former U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., is killing the basic human rights of all women in the USA.

Heitkamp, if you recall, was one of 54 senators who voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court by former President Donald Trump, and one of only three Democrats to do so.

Thanks in part to Heitkamp’s vote, we find ourselves in a situation where, if the leaked draft Supreme Court opinion on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization holds, Gorsuch will be one of the five “numerical minority justices” to effectively overturn Roe vs. Wade. 

These are justices who, as nominees, “…won confirmation with the support of a majority of senators, but senators who did not represent a majority of voters,” according to Trinity College (Hartford, Conn.) political scientist Kevin J. McMahon. McMahon further points out that three of them – Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett – were appointed by a minority president, i.e., one who did not win the popular vote. 

Regardless, if Heitkamp and 53 other senators had not voted to confirm Gorsuch, the discussion about Roe v. Wade likely would look and sound much different than it does right now, and millions of women might not be confronting the prospect of losing their right to an abortion.

The only reason Heitkamp had occasion to vote on Gorsuch in the first place is that, in 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell flouted the norms and constructs of Supreme Court nominations. Since the time of the Civil War, the president has nominated judges to fill vacancies and senators have voted in support of or against confirmation in a timely manner. Instead, McConnell sat on President Barack Obama’s appointment of Merrick Garland for months, holding it up beyond the 2016 election in the hope that a Republican would win the White House.

Trump lost the popular vote, “won” the election due to the abomination that is the Electoral College, appointed Gorsuch and here we are.

Remember the 54

Fifty-four lousy people, including three so-called Democrats, confirmed a guy who is poised to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the 50-year-old precedent that affirmed every woman’s right to an abortion, i.e., the healthcare she needs based on her own beliefs. 

Credit: New York Times. Heitkamp’s vote is the first blue box under “Yes.”

On the Gorsuch vote, Heitkamp placed herself in the disreputable company of Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana.

Donnelly, a long-time anti-abortion-rights politician, is now the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, i.e., the Roman Catholic Pope, Vatican, et. al. Go figure. 

Manchin remains a Democrat In Name Only (DINO) who is all too conspicuous and irritating in the Senate, like a flea torturing an ol’ hound on a sweltering West Virginia summer day.

Here’s a guy who takes millions in profits each year from coal operations and votes against every scrap of climate-change legislation uttered under a colleague’s breath. Over the past two years, Manchin has almost single-handedly held up legislation meant to address a wide range of Progressive and even middle-of-the-road Democratic priorities, most notably voting rights and true action on climate change. As for the rest of President Joe Biden’s agenda, there’s been a revolving cast of characters on the wrecking crew, but Manchin has always been out front, deftly swinging his tainted sledgehammer.

Right now, Manchin is undeniably the grand poobah of DINO Nation. 

Out-DINO-ing the Top DINO

He’d better watch out, though – the former senator from North Dakota seems intent on clawing the top-DINO dog tag from around the ol’ West Virginia hound’s neck.

After losing her Senate seat, Heitkamp founded One Country Project, a dark money nonprofit with ties to a lobbying and public relations firm that is fighting against Medicare for All, and she has spoken out against it herself. She’s also chair of Save America’s Family Enterprises, another dark-money nonprofit that spent six figures to kill Biden’s proposal to ditch the “stepped-up basis” loophole, which, in brief, allows billionaires to avoid paying taxes.

Nothing like aligning with oligarchs to flex your right-wing bona fides.

Positions and votes that have deepened her DINOship are scattered across Heitkamp’s political career. But at this moment in History – yes, with a capital “H” – none looms more egregiously than Gorsuch. 

There’s just no getting around the fact that Heitkamp voted to confirm a Supreme Court Justice who is likely to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

No More Blank Checks

It’s been pounded into our heads for years – elections matter. The forthcoming Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision is likely to prove that beyond a reasonable doubt. 

But what if the only non-GOP choice on your ballot is a DINO?

I hope North Dakota women, as well as all Democrats and Progressives in my home state, remember Heitkamp was one of the 54 the next time she runs, perhaps as early as 2024 to reclaim her Senate seat or become governor.

As for me, abortion rights will be firmly front of mind next time Heitkamp’s name appears. I’ll be leaving the boxes next to both major-party candidates blank. 

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Graphic - MCFIV Copyright 2022 Black
Additional Reading

“In Contempt of the Court” – The Life in My Years by Paul Anderson

Featured image by Tom Williams via Roll Call

Martin C. Fredricks IV

Martin C. “Red” Fredricks IV here. I’m husband to an amazing woman who is also my best friend, dad to three outstanding kids, Fargoan (North Dakota, that is), proud introvert, veteran messaging strategist/copywriter, and big-time reader. As they say, if you're gonna write good stuff, you have to read good stuff. A ginger, too - ergo the "Red" - although some of it's going white. Cinnamon-Sugar, I call it. Tattooed to boot; seven so far. At age 54, I'm stilling crankin' AC/DC & Metallica, but now and again I spin some Eric Church and Black Uhuru, too. I love hanging out with my (much) better half, spending time with our kids, writing, hiking, riding my mountain bike and reading.


bz · May 18, 2022 at 5:56 pm

If you can not vote for either major party candidate, vote for another who’s likely to get a fair number of votes. Failing that, write someone in.
Not voting in a contest tells TPTB that they’ve got you exactly where they want you(us), at a loss for any way to take their control of us away.

But you know this… just reminding you and your other readers.

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