George F. Will omitted from his May 31 op-ed, “How to judge Mitch McConnell,” the two character traits that, more than “grit,” have enabled Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to shape the nation through judicial appointments: hypocrisy and ruthless partisanship.
In an effort to step back from the partisan rancor that has increasingly infected the Supreme Court, then-President Barack Obama was willing to rile his own base by nominating Judge Merrick Garland, one of the most centrist nominee s in 50 years. Mr. McConnell responded to this olive branch with the most partisan reaction in the history of the court, decreeing that regardless of his or her merits, no nominee from Mr. Obama would even be considered and the slot would be kept vacant for about a year. Now when Republicans piously invoke the original intent of the authors of the Constitution, Democrats should smolder as they remember how Mr. McConnell rewrote the Constitution to steal the power of the president to nominate justices.
Mr. Will should not assume that the Republicans are done paying for Mr. McConnell’s choices.
David Apatoff, McLean
While I appreciate that, from time to time, George F. Will has used his conservative voice to push back against Trumpism, Mr. Will’s credulous lionization of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ignored Mr. McConnell’s facilitation of President Trump’s rise. Mr. McConnell’s blockade of the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court from even getting a hearing, much less a Senate vote, was unprecedented in U.S. history. Neither then-Vice President Joe Biden nor Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) was responsible for that. If this precedent has a name at all, it can only be called “the McConnell rule.” Meanwhile, then-President Barack Obama did not pack by enlargement — or in any other way — the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit with judges. He simply appointed qualified nominees to fill then-existing vacancies, nominees that Mr. McConnell obstructed wholesale until Democrats changed the rules to overcome Mr. McConnell’s harmful, purely political scheme. Is Mr. McConnell a canny tactician? No question. Has his tenure as majority leader been a stain on the Senate while helping set America on our current Trumpist path? Absolutely.
Elizabeth Wydra, Washington
The writer is president of the Constitutional Accountability Center.