GOP Straw Man Argument Holds No Water
While the Democratic Party is gaining steam and will have to choose between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders for the general election, the GOP is trying to gain steam in a different way.
It’s well known the GOP is not going to meet with President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court. In fact, the Republicans aren’t going to entertain anything dealing with Merrick Garland. Of course, it has nothing to do with how moderate or centrist Garland is– it’s all a game of posturing.
“The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in an interview with CNN. “The next president may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy.”
So when the GOP comes out specifically and say the people should decide who the next Supreme Court Justice should be, it’s baffling if not a backwards way of thinking.
Per the Constitution: “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint [Justices] to the Supreme Court.”
That phrasing doesn’t leave room for Obama to ignore the fact that he should make a nominee. In fact 40 out of the 44 presidents have made Supreme Court nominees.
As for the four who didn’t choose a nomination William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor both died in office before getting to make a nomination. The other two, Andrew Johnson and Jimmy Carter were prevented from nominating for two other reasons. In Johnson’s case, Congress made a law that abolished two of the seats on the Supreme Court to prevent him from making a choice and it never came up during Carter’s presidency.
The point is the active president has a constitutional obligation to nominate someone. That obligation doesn’t end because he or she is in their last term.Which is exactly what President Obama has done.
“I said I would take this process seriously and I did,” Obama said at his address. “I have fulfilled my constitutional duty, now it’s up to the Senate to do theirs. Presidents do not stop working in the last year of their term. Neither should a senator.”
For Senator McConnell to come out and say the people should decide, it’s a bad argument to cover up that it comes off as a bit childish. There’s no need to avoid at least having hearings with the nominee. At least it shows a willingness to work with the White House in this endeavor—even if they don’t want to go through with Garland as the new Justice. In fact, there’s precedent, where the Senate has held multiple hearings.
When Lyndon B. Johnson nominated Homer Thornberry and Abe Fortas to the Supreme Court back in 1968, the Senate actually had 22 hearings between the two candidates. Fortas was successfully prevented from nomination due to a combination of a filibuster and the fact he had committed a number of serious ethical breaches. But the point was, the Senate still heard the candidate. What the GOP is trying to do is set a new precedent that can open up a can of worms.
What they are doing is politicizing the nominee.
“It seems clear that President Obama made this nomination, not with the intent of seeing the nominee confirmed, but to politicize it for purposes of the election,” McConnell said in an interview. “The American people are perfectly capable of having their say — their say — on this issue. So let’s give them a voice.”
Ironically, McConnell is the one who is politicizing the nomination process, he along with other Senate Republicans. For the GOP to publicly state they will wait to find out if the season is a “lame duck” season is a disservice to the American people. There’s no political benefit from holding off and more at stake if the Democrats win the general election.
One can be sure that a presidency led by Hillary Clinton/Bernie Sanders isn’t going to go with the 63-year old Garland. In fact, another argument could be made that the Democrats are pretty upset with Garland’s nomination. The Democrats would like to place someone a bit more liberal than Garland.
He’s too centrist for their tastes.
So if the Republicans lose in November, they are going to change their tune really fast. There’s no chance they would give a Clinton or Sanders presidency a chance to nominate someone more liberal. Also, if they wait that long, they may lose their majority as the early reports show a lot of Republicans having to fight for their seats.
One last thing about McConnell’s “let people decide” argument, his own party is actively trying to prevent leading frontrunner Donald Trump from winning the nomination. That’s right, the GOP doesn’t want the GOP frontrunner, which the people have given their support right or wrongly. It’s to the point where the establishment is heading to a brokered convention in the hopes of stopping the business mogul from winning the nomination.
It’s a dangerous game that McConnell is playing by not doing his constitutional duty. It’s also a dangerous stance for the GOP, as they will not come out a winner. The best thing they could do is to at least interview Garland and have hearings. The bold strategy of cutting off a foot in order to fix a hang nail seems to be the status quo for the GOP. Hiding behind a straw man argument may work now but it’s definitely going to haunt them in November.