Republicans love to complain about people who get money from the government and refuse to work. That is, unless they’re doing so, by refusing to consider the president’s Supreme Court Nominee.
As Jim Hightower writes, American taxpayers might justifiably ask why we should keep paying Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s salary. The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s body wasn’t even cold before McConnell announced that the Senate would not even consider a successor nominated by President Barack Obama. As justification, McConnell created from thin air a brand new precedent that president’s don’t get to name new justices to the Court in the last year in office .
That bald-faced lie would have annoyed Scalia, who would no doubt point out that the Constitution just doesn’t say that. It says that the president “shall” nominate a Justice to the Court as part of his job. There’s no exception for the last year of a president’s term. Even Scalia would admit that the drafters of the Constitution would have thought “lame duck” referred to a member of the waterfowl family Anatidae with a bum leg.
The entire GOP blockade of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee is made up of lies and hypocrisy. McConnell and Senate Republicans claim that allowing President Obama a “lame duck” appointment would break with historic precedent. In 116 years, there have been just six election-year vacancies on the Court, and every one of them was filled. In fact, one third of U.S. presidents appointed a Supreme Court justice in an election year. In his 31 years in the Senate, McConnell has stood at least 13 times to demand the Senate do it’s “constitutional duty” and vote on a judicial nominee, and voted himself to confirm a Supreme Court justice in Ronald Reagan’s final year in office. Back in 1980 Senate Republicans even approved President Jimmy Carter’s “lame duck” nominee to the court: Justice Stephen Breyer.
Republicans’ antics remind me of the way my kids create excuses to delay or get out of things they don’t want to do. How many times has homework been delayed because the child in question insisted that he desperately needed to use the bathroom again, get another drink, or have another snack?
Republicans have come up with all kinds of excuses to get out of considering President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.
- They’ve tried to blame Vice President Joe Biden’s efforts to stop the 1987 nomination of Robert Bork, for “politicizing” the Court. If anything, Bork’s nomination politicized the court.
- Despite Scalia’s own warnings that having eight justices impairs the court, the Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky claimed that a “precedent” for allowing justices to vote from beyond the grave requires the Court to count Scalia’s votes in preliminary conferences, even if the votes weren’t always final.
Republicans argue against a “lame duck” appointment, saying that filling the vacancy on the Court should wait until after the election, to “give the American people a voice” in the matter. What about the 65 million Americans who re-elected Barack Obama to the presidency in 2012, making him the first candidate since 1956 to win with 51 percent of the vote? There are currently 24 “lame-duck” Republican senators in the sixth year of their terms. By the same logic they want to apply to the president, “lame-duck” Republican senators should be barred from casting votes between now and November.
Even several prominent Republicans admit the GOP’s Supreme Court blockade is purely political.
- Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott said he would have taken up President Obama’s nominee. “My attitude, particularly on the Supreme Court, was that elections do have consequences, sometimes bad, and I tried to lean towards being supportive of the President’s nominees, Democrat or Republican,” Lott told CNN’s Daivd Axelrod on “The Axe Files” podcast.
- Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), in comments at CPAC, all but admitted the the GOP’s Supreme Court blockade is all about politics. King said he would support such a blockade as long as it’s “blocking an Obama appointment.” King added that he would only support judicial nominees who’s reading of the Constitution adhered to “what it was understood to mean at the time of ratification.”
- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R, S.C.) admitted during a Judiciary Committee meeting that his party’s blockade is “setting a precedent” that’s never existed before.
- Sen. Ron Johnson admitted during a radio interview that “it’d be a different situation” if a Republican president was appointing a justice to the Court, because the Senate GOP would show “more accommodation” to a Republican president.
- Republican columnist George Will dismissed the GOP’s various excuses for blocking Merrick’s nomination as “a partisan reflex in search of a justifying principle.”
- Alberto Gonzales, who served as George W. Bush’s Attorney General, in a USA Today op-ed, declared Merrick Garland “capable of doing the job by virtue of intellect, education, and experience,” and urged Senate Republicans “to provide a hearing and floor vote.”
No wonder an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 55 percent of Americans disapprove of Republican’s strategy to block any Supreme Court nominee from President Obama. According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll, 63 percent of Americans agree that the Senate should hold hearings and vote on a Supreme Court nominee.
Republicans aren’t fooling anyone; not the American people, and not even themselves. It’s time for Republicans in the Senate to do their jobs, and give President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, the hearing and vote he deserves and the Constitution requires.