March 16, 2016: McConnell: Blocking Supreme Court Nomination ‘About A Principle, Not A Person’ 8 Months Prior to the 2016 Election
Here is What McConnell Argued And Here is What the Dems Must Do If the Seat is Filled….PACK/BALANCE THE COURT.
“It is a president’s constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court justice, and it is the Senate’s constitutional right to act as a check on a president and withhold its consent,” McConnell said on the Senate floor following the president’s nomination of U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland.
In his remarks earlier on that day, President Obama had called for the Senate to put politics aside and confirm Garland. Obama praised Garland’s collegiality and ability to build consensus, saying “he’s shown a rare ability to bring together odd couples.” A Supreme Court nomination, Obama said, is “supposed to be above politics, it has to be, and should stay that way.”McConnell’s comments came after a pledge he had made in the last month prior to the nomination that the Senate would take no action on the nomination, setting the stage for a political fight. McConnell said Wednesday that the “the decision the Senate made weeks ago remains about a principle, not a person.
“It seems clear President Obama made this nomination not, not with the intent of seeing the nominee confirmed, but in order to politicize it for purposes of the election,” McConnell said.”I believe the overwhelming view of the Republican Conference in the Senate is that this nomination should not be filled, this vacancy should not be filled by this lame-duck president,” McConnell said.”The American people are perfectly capable of having their say on this issue, so let’s give them a voice. Let’s let the American people decide. The Senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the nominee the next president nominates, whoever that might be,” McConnell said.
OK MITCH…..LET’S SEE IF YOU ARE NOT THE POLITICAL HACK, THE BLATANTLY PARTISAN OPERATIVE, THE CRAVEN COURT PACKER THAT I BELIEVE YOU TO BE……..CLEARLY TRUMP SHOULD NOT NOMINATE A REPLACEMENT FOR GINSBERG BY YOUR RULES AND IF HE DOES IT SHOULD BE IGNORED…GIVEN THAT TRUMP IS A LAME DUCK WITH ONLY SIX WEEKS (AND NOT EIGHT MONTHS) TO THE ELECTION……BUT YOU HAVE MADE IT CLEAR….YOU’RE ARE A LIAR….. LAST NIGHT, WHEN THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF GINSBERG’S DEATH WAS BARELY OUT THE DOOR, YOU ANNOUNCED THAT YOU WOULD IGNORE “THE MCCONNELL PRINCIPLE” AND PUSH THE TRUMP NOMINATION THROUGH THE DOOR IN RECORD TIME.
In a statement last night you said that President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee to fill the vacancy of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate. ”Democrats have only one play here: If Trump and McConnell jam an appointee through, it is not enough for Democrats to raise hell about the hypocrisy, the duplicity, and the Republican refusal to play by McConnell’s own rules. It is not enough to target every Republican senator who goes along. It is not enough to have voters bombard their Republican senator’s office with phone calls and protests. Because those things have been happening for four years, and none of them have persuaded the GOP to put the stability of the country or the obligations of office ahead of that party’s thirst for power.
So Democrats should threaten to pack the court. And, if McConnell pushes through a new justice and then Joe Biden wins, they should follow through. Ginsburg herself was clear on what she believed to be fair. As she was dying, she dictated a public statement to her granddaughter: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” Before Ginsburg’s death, Sens. Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Charles E. Grassley all stated, laudably, that they would not consider a Supreme Court nominee this close to the election. So far, only Murkowski has kept her word. Whether the other senators’ commitments will hold up when these senators faced with our new reality remains an open question.
This is simply a question of fundamental fairness and democratic norms. In order for a democracy to function, people have to play by the same rules. McConnell has made up the rules as he goes along, constraining Democrats and empowering his own party. He has shown, time and again, that preserving American democracy is not the goal; power is. We saw this when he thwarted Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland. We saw it when he blocked any real impeachment trial and refused to call witnesses who might incriminate Trump. We saw it when he blocked from consideration emergency bill after emergency bill from even being considered by the Senate. AND WE HAVE SEEN IT IN HOW HE HAS PACKED THE FEDERAL JUDICIARY.
Democrats need to realize that they’re up against an uncompromising and mendacious bully who is never going to follow even the rules he sets out. “Court-packing” is a loaded term, and if they’re smart, Democrats will find a more palatable one like “Court-Balancing”. But it’s a defensible and evenhanded move to assert that, if McConnell steals another Supreme Court seat (just weeks before a national election), then Democrats will consider a presidential victory a mandate from voters to expand the number of seats on the Supreme Court.
This is not unprecedented. The number of justices has not been static at nine; it’s changed six times, from as few as six to as many as ten. All it takes is for Congress to pass an act, and for the president to sign it. If a Biden victory comes with a Democratic congressional majority, expanding the number of Supreme Court justices isn’t all that hard to do. Add two seats making it 11 in response to the thwarted Garland nomination and the proposed Trump nomination to replace Ginsberg. Some are already arguing that given that Trump has already placed two Supreme Court Justices into place with one of them having been jammed through…maybe the number should be 13.
And let’s recall that Trump has placed more than 175 judges on the federal bench, a historic number because McConnell has violated virtually every precedent to push them through. Adding justices is not an action Democrats should take lightly. It runs a high risk of alienating some voters who would see such a move, constitutionally permitted, and I would argue, mandated though it may be, as taking advantage. And the escalation would certainly ratchet up the already boiling conflicts between Democrats and Republicans in Congress. But McConnell forces the left’s hand. Thanks to him and his ally in the White House, the United States looks less like a functional democracy by the day.
This latest maneuver is more than political gamesmanship; it’s a massive blow to the stability of the republic. With an election looming, Democrats can give voters a say. If they vow to expand the court, then Americans can cast their ballots with that in mind. Key to the message should be that McConnell and Senate Republicans have so repeatedly broken the rules, rigged the game, and stolen victories that it’s become impossible to play on neutral turf.
As Murkowski put it, the fair is fair. It’s a shame we’re here. But to restore a democracy that has been battered, bruised, and robbed blind by the president and his party, Democrats will need to fight harder. If Republicans steal this seat, the only reasonable response is to change the number of judges on the bench.