For anyone who even had the slightest doubt the our hallowed Supreme Court is not a partisan, politicized institution, old Mitch McConnell set the record straight in an interview on last week’s Fox News Sunday.
In response to a question from host Chris Wallace, who asked if Senate Republicans would consider the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court after the election if Hillary Clinton were to prevail, McConnell responded that he “can’t imagine that a Republican majority in the United States Senate would want to confirm, in a lame duck session, a nominee opposed by the National Rifle Association [and] the National Federation of Independent Businesses.”
Gone was the original rationale that Obama’s nominee should not get a Senate vote during an election year. Gone was the talking point that we should let the American people, by way of the upcoming presidential election, decide who gets to pick the new justice.
This was a rare moment in American politics. The Majority Leader of the Senate admitting that Republicans must get the approval of the NRA in order to vote on a Supreme Court nominee. It is one thing to think such a thought or to perhaps discuss it among your fellow Republicans, but to admit it on national TV?
It’s almost too ironic, bordering on the comical, that only last month Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. delivered some blunt remarks about the Supreme Court confirmation process. The Senate should ensure that nominees are qualified, he said, and leave politics out of it.
This is rich because the Chief Justice spoke only 10 days before the sudden death of his colleague, Justice Antonin Scalia and he could not have known how timely, albeit awkward, his comments would turn out to be.
Will Justice Roberts once again speak out against politics influencing the confirmation process now that an actual vacancy has occurred? Don’t hold your breath.
Republicans are rightfully upset over the unexpected loss of their favorite, most partisan justice, Scalia. They know the ideological … OK I’ll say it …the political balance of the Court is at stake. Even a moderate justice, Democrat or Republican, will move the court away from the almost certain 5-4 conservative rulings you routinely got with Scalia on the bench.
Truth is, McConnell didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already suspect: the Supreme Court is a political body and not an impartial arbiter of the Constitution. With Scalia and the other four conservatives on the bench, the Court had almost become an extension of the Republican establishment.
What we didn’t know was that, according to the Majority Leader, the U.S. Constitution had been amended to read that U.S. Supreme Court justices were to be appointed with the advice and consent of the NRA, not the U.S. Senate.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)