What Mitch McConnell has done can and will be justified by Republicans… for now. 20 years from now they will look back on his leadership and lament the day he took power. I’m not talking about Gorsuch or even Kavanaugh. I’m talking about two specific things Mitch McConnell has done. Both of them are unprecedented, and irreparable.
Today, we learned from Senator McConnell that indeed his decision to block the confirmation of Merrick Garland was entirely political.
Speaking at a Paducah Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Kentucky, McConnell was asked by an attendee, “Should a Supreme Court justice die next year, what will your position be on filling that spot?”
Ted Barrett, CNN
The leader took a long sip of what appeared to be iced tea before announcing with a smile, “Oh, we’d fill it,” triggering loud laughter from the audience.
How Mitch McConnell killed the Supreme Court
- Mitch McConnell set the precedent for a Senate Majority Leader to deprive a sitting President of a Supreme Court nomination.
- He changed the voting requirements to allow a Supreme Court Justice to be confirmed with a simple majority vote.
Now perhaps you think I’m being hyperbolic here. That is not my intention. Furthermore, I don’t believe that I’m exaggerating. If you disagree, please answer the following hypothetical questions.
- Assume that President Trump gets reelected. In his final year, a Supreme Court seat becomes vacant, and Majority Leader Schumer blocks President Trump’s nomination from coming up for a vote. Are you fine with that?
- President Trump loses the 2020 election. Moreover, Democrats take the Senate back. Will Democrats change the rules back to force their own President to nominate a Justice that can get 60 votes?
My answer to both of those questions is an emphatic “no”. If you agree, then you understand that Mitch McConnell has changed the Supreme Court nomination and confirmation processes for the foreseeable future. Now ask yourself this. Has he changed it for the better?
What Mitch has done to the Supreme Court.
By reducing the confirmation requirements for Supreme Court nominees, he has guaranteed that the picks will be more radical. Moreover, Democrats are much better at this game than Republicans.
Furthermore, by giving the Senate Majority Leader the power to block a nominee every 3 years, he has usurped power from the Executive Branch.
I was certainly not a fan of Majority Leader Harry Reid. However, his bad decisions had a much shorter life span. He set the precedent for lower court judges to be confirmed with a simple majority. A bad precedent indeed, but one that could be checked by keeping the Supreme Court above the fray. Now, that hope is gone.
Mitch McConnell has been an effective leader. I’m not trying to say he’s incompetent. He’s had to deal with serious fractures in his party throughout his entire tenure. Tea Party vs. mainstream. Pro-Trump vs. Anti-Trump. He’s very good at what he does. The problem is indeed what he does.
Eventually, the dust will settle and the cheers from the Republican base will fade away. Mitch McConnell has doomed us to a hyper-politicized Supreme Court. One that is chosen by the President that the Senate Majority Leader decides is best suited to make the pick.