I never thought I’d see it… Mitch McConnell and the Senate Judiciary Committee have completely caved to the Democrats! They’ve fought loudly to keep the sacred Constitution safe for all of us, but when it came to doing the duty specified under that Constitution they collapsed under the power of Democratic rhetoric. Mitch and his buddies have decided to elevate Joe Biden’s Senate comments about a hypothetical situation to an iron-clad rule of law, the “Biden Rule”, that trumps even the Constitution. Mitch does want to hold hearings for the Supreme Court nominee, he really does, but he’s so blown away by the radiant truth of Biden’s rhetoric that he’s just shackled…
Well, here’s the thing about the “Biden Rule”… even if such a thing existed outside of Karl Rove’s focus groups, it would be wrong. The fictitious “Biden Rule” is based on Joe Biden’s 1992 Senate speech, where he said that if a vacancy came up in the Supreme Court that President George W. Bush should wait till the results of the next election before nominating a replacement. Biden was wrong. The speech was even made 3 months closer to the election than we are now, but the fact remains… Biden was wrong. McConnell is too.
Political parties are exactly like opposing attorneys. They’ll make the best case they can in support of the position they serve, but it’s up to the judge and jury to decide where the truth lies. Democrats in 1992 had partisan motivation to prevent Bush from making a nomination just as the Republicans do today with Obama. But in neither case did their arguments trump the Constitution or functional government. Joe Biden in 1992 and Mitch McConnell today both make cases that would empower their individual factions, but they were wrong then and wrong now. It’s up to us, America, to be judge and jury.
The idea that the last year of a President’s term somehow doesn’t count is absurd. We’ve seated many Supreme Court Justices in election years, but what if a Justice died with just a week left until the election? A strong argument could be made to wait until after the election before filling the seat. The President would still have the right and duty to nominate, but legitimate real-world bureaucracy would make it impossible to rationally consider or approve anyone in the time available. That same logic would apply two weeks from the election, and maybe even a month or two out. But it’s an argument based on pragmatism, not some invented notion that The People must participate in judicial nominations. The further we get from the election the less legitimacy even this position has, and with a year left it has no legitimacy at all.
With the changing political horizons, McConnell’s position may not even make sense from a pragmatic Republican point of view. As best anyone can tell right now, the next President will be either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Does McConnell think he’ll get a better pick (from his point of view) from either of them?
President Obama has nominated Judge Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court. Judge Garland is widely respected on both sides of the aisle, and seems to be a centrist with things for the Left to hate and the Right to love. The Senate started their two-week Spring Recess on the day of Garland’s nomination, and I hope they’ll use this time away for reflection on their Constitutional duty, aided by loud calls from their constituents! When they come back I hope they’re ready to give Judge Merrick the fair, objective hearing that he, President Obama, and certainly the American People deserve. I hope they’re ready to DO THEIR DAMN JOB, not hide partisan obstructionism behind the skirts of Democrats. Is all that too much to hope for? We’ll find out in April.
Take Care and Make a Great Day!