Politically speaking, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can be maddeningly brilliant. That’s why his dredging up the 1992 words of then-Sen. Joe Biden on a hypothetical Supreme Court vacancy is rather clever. And desperate.
Back then, Biden was the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and in a June floor speech he said President George H.W. Bush should “not name a nominee until after the November election is completed.” Everything else Biden said 25 years ago was regurgitated by McConnell immediately after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month and immediately after President Obama nominated Merrick Garland, chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on Wednesday.
What McConnell conveniently leaves out is that Biden’s words were about a hypothetical resignation. Also, those words were delivered in June of an election year not after the sudden death of a justice in February. But here’s the line that most irked me about McConnell’s speech on the floor of the Senate after the Garland nomination. “The next justice could fundamentally alter the direction of the Supreme Court and have a profound impact on our country,” McConnell said, “so of course the American people should have a say in the Court’s direction.”
The Constitution gives this president the authority to nominate Supreme Court justices. Our current president won reelection to the White House in 2012 with 51 percent of the vote. Five million more votes than the Republican nominee. In fact, Obama was the first president since 1956 to win 51 percent of the vote twice.
So, the American people have spoken. Loudly and clearly. And they have given him the authority to make a Supreme Court pick that will do something McConnell really doesn’t want to have happen — potentially swing the ideological balance of the court to the left.
“It seems clear that President Obama made this nomination not with the intent of seeing the nominee confirmed but in order to politicize it for purposes of the election,” McConnell said. Politicizing the Supreme Court nomination for the purposes of the election? The president? The senate majority leader is doing that all by himself.
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