The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion New GOP position: Voters should NOT have any say in Supreme Court nominations

(Tom Toles)

The Republicans’ position on Supreme Court nominations is now: We will do whatever we can get away with. How do we know this? Easy, they’ve spelled it out for us.

Way back in ancient history, back in the Obama administration, they laid out their principles. They said that lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court were so important that the wishes of the voters MUST be taken into account. They were about as clear as could be.

“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.” -Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “The American people shouldn’t be denied a voice.” -Sen. Charles E. Grassley. “We should let the American people decide the direction of the court.” -House Speaker Paul D. Ryan. “The American people deserve to have a say in the selection of the next lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.” -Sen. John Cornyn. “I firmly believe we must let the people decide the Supreme Court’s future.” -Sen. James M. Inhofe.

And then the people voted. And most of them voted for Hillary Clinton to be president and make the court nominations.

Period. That is what the voters voted for. Do not start in with any tut tuts about the electoral college. Go back and read the quotes again. They are quite clear. They did not say the ELECTORAL COLLEGE must be given a voice. They did not say the SYSTEM must be given a voice. They didn’t care about the system one bit. The system called for sitting presidents to make nominations and for the Senate to conduct hearings and take a vote on the nominee. They didn’t like the system, and so they made up a new rule about how this should all work. And then they got together and crafted a tapestry of coordinated talking points about how the people must be given a voice.

Except not. After the election result. They quickly shifted their position from “people” to “electoral college.” Does that little switch make a difference? Just all the difference. The people spoke up for Clinton, but suddenly the Republicans didn’t care what the people wanted anymore. Not. At. All.

And so they Cuisinarted Merrick Garland and nominated and confirmed a justice who was the opposite of what the people said they wanted. And now they are trying to do it for a second time. They are not in any way whatsoever following what the voters voted for, and they are not even making any effort to meet the voters even halfway.

The voters spoke, but the Republicans proved hard of hearing. Voters are going to have to speak considerably louder this November.