By Max Furigay ’19
The Senate Republicans, all the while displaying their characteristic lack of self-awareness, still have refused to even hold a confirmation hearing for poor, sweet Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. The way I see it, there are two huge issues with their recent conduct—primarily, the fact that the Senate refuses to even consider Obama’s nominee reeks of both entrenched partisanship and hypocrisy. But also puzzling is the Republicans’ endgame. I’ll get to this in a second.
I don’t think that anyone argues that the Senate can withhold its consent, according to the Constitution. While it’s only in this recent era of bitter party relations that confirmation hearings became so contentious, they are certainly legally entitled to the withholding of consent. However, the refusal to even hold a confirmation hearing or (for the most part) even meet with the guy is more than just rude to a man who’s served over fifty years in the federal court system. It’s bullheadedly contrarian, and it signals a new era in which only a friendly Senate will confirm Supreme Court nominees—and this is becoming increasingly infrequent as positions become more polarized. And this nonsense rationale that the party leadership in the Senate is offering, that “the American people” deserve to have a say in this decision, is just that—nonsensical. The Democrats’ party line is accurate: the American people did have a say in the decision by electing President Obama, twice!
While I am passionately moderate in my political views, positions like Mitch McConnell’s cement the Republicans as the party of deadlock, of stagnation, and of poorly-disguised, hypocritical partisanship. I would respect the party so much more if they just came out and said that they despise Mr. Obama so much that, absent of any rational reason to confirm his (undeniably well-qualified) nominee, they’re just going to wait out the clock on this pick.
Which brings me to my second point. What happens when the clock has been waited out? Democrats are favored to win back the Senate just because Republicans are defending many more seats in competitive elections than the Democrats. Hillary Clinton is favored to win the general election in most hypothetical scenarios this early in the game. Meanwhile, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz continue to lead the party down the path to implosion, with all signs pointing to either a Mr. Trump first-round ballot victory or a nasty, prolonged convention that still might elect Mr. Trump. And if they don’t, in the words of the man himself, “there will be riots [and a third party run].” So after the American people have spoken, there’s a really good chance that we’ll be looking at a President Clinton nominee, possibly also with a liberal-controlled Senate. And the Republicans are holding out for a possible Donald Trump nominee? Best of luck with that, Mr. McConnell. My only hope is that Mrs. Clinton will stick it to the GOP one more time and nominate Mr. Obama for the spot. I’d sure love to watch the Republicans try to deal with their favorite friend for the entire lifetime appointment.
By Max Furigay ’19