It doesn’t take much to stir up the liberal Democrat hornet hive these days, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell managed to do it -- again -- the other day by announcing
he would not act on a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year should he become Majority Leader after next year’s federal midterm elections.
In doing so, McConnell was just being consistent with how he’s treated such circumstances in the past, but Democrats don’t care about predictability and truth-telling and all that other honorable stuff. The liberal faction treats each new potential high court vacancy as a new hill to die on, just as they did back in 2016, when the late Justice Antonin Scalia unexpectedly passed away and then-president Obama fell over himself to appoint a successor against senate tradition and the majority leader’s repeated warnings not to do it.
McConnell then infuriated Democrats when he performed his constitutional duty and moved the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh in the fall of 2018, mere weeks before the federal midterm elections were set to take place. (As a side note, what would be the rationale to hold a nomination until after the midterm elections? The nominee would be the same -- only the partisan balance might change. Isn’t the senate merely supposed to provide “Advice and Consent”?)
The “Murder Turtle” further tweaked Democrats a third time last year when he kept his vow to move on the vacancy created by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. Ginsburg had been sick for a long time, so it wasn’t a big shock when the opening surfaced.
This week, in an interview, McConnell indicated he would stand firm a fourth time if the situation called for it. If a Supreme Court vacancy occurs when -- or if -- he’s Majority Leader and there’s a Democrat president, he would hold the nomination until after the next presidential election. That’s in 2024, so the GOP would have to win enough seats in next year’s midterms to give him the opportunity for history to repeat itself.
The reaction from Democrats? Pass the hanky, there’re tears and bellyaching drool to wipe up.
“McConnell is now vowing that Republicans, if they are able to win back control of the Senate in 2022, would run a similar playbook against Biden in 2024 as they did against Obama, refusing to give a potential Supreme Court nominee a hearing or a vote.
“’I think it’s highly unlikely — in fact, no, I don’t think either party, if it were different from the president, would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election,’ McConnell told radio host Hugh Hewitt.
“And, in what would amount to a moving of the goalposts that would further reshape any future fights over the Supreme Court, McConnell wouldn’t commit to a Republican-controlled Senate taking up a nominee if a vacancy occurred in mid-2023. ‘We’ll have to wait and see what happens,’ McConnell said, asked by Hewitt if the nominee would get a fair shot.”
Mitch appears to have a few different motivations for sticking to his guns on future Supreme Court openings. One, he sees his most lasting legacy as having helped reshape the Court into an originalism-honoring body that won’t make law from the bench. Two, he craves a proven winner issue -- like senate confirmations -- to drive Republican voters to the polls next year. Three, McConnell desperately wants to end his career as majority leader, not as a virtually powerless underling and subject to the ambitious Democrats.
Four, Mitch hopes the possibility they’ll lose the Court for a generation will inspire Democrats to behave in a manner that will hurt them in the midterms; and finally, reason number five is personal. Democrats have demagogued practically every issue to death, making the senate all but dysfunctional -- for purely political reasons.
It's certainly been that way ever since Biden was declared the 2020 election winner and GOP fortunes went downhill from there.
I’d be the first to admit I’ve never been a big fan of Mitch McConnell and it’s hard for me to sympathize with him at all. Time after time the longtime establishment Republican leader has disappointed conservatives if it came to moving and passing crucial agenda items when the party enjoyed a majority in the upper chamber. McConnell’s personality and penchant for fighting appears to warp only when he’s on the outside looking in (of the majority, that is).
Perhaps ol’ “Cocaine Mitch” is akin to the Incredible Hulk (of 1970’s TV fame). In times when he’s in charge of the calendar and messaging for the party, he’s like the passive and mild-mannered Dr. David Banner, the bespectacled scientist who got a little too anxious with an experiment that transformed him, when triggered under stress, into a big green beast. The stress in this example is supplied by being in the minority and finding himself subject to the whims of another cartoon-like villain, the evil “Chucky” Schumer of “Child’s Play” fame.
I haven’t heard Mitch say it, but maybe on such occasions he says, “Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.”
McConnell has proved to be fairly useless over the years, a major reason why the Republican agenda never went anywhere when he and a similarly situated establishmentarian presided in the House (see Boehner, John and Ryan, Paul). But every time he’s up for reelection, Mitch promises to get things accomplished on the conservative wish list -- trimming the size of government, advancing the traditional, liberty-minded social agenda, preserving sacred rights and contesting the Democrats at every turn -- only to withdraw in defeat when the rubber hit the road. Following the pattern, Mitch always swears he’ll fight harder if given more GOP firepower (votes) in the next cycle.
As children we learned about the “Boy who cried wolf”. Well, where McConnell is involved, it’s like the “Majority Leader who cried surrender and begged for more campaign dollars to get it done next time”.
This is pretty much true for every issue area except Republican judicial nominees. Whenever there’s a Supreme Court vacancy, “Hulk” McConnell bursts through his shirt, Dr. Banner recedes into the background and the newly fashioned bulky and mean green man scowls and wrecks a lot of stuff in the course of ticking off his enemies. Okay, maybe not quite as dramatic as that, but McConnell obviously saves his best political weapons for judiciary nominee battles.
Whatever the explanation, McConnell’s announcement caused yet another round of “You’d better retire or else” threats from leftist interest groups to 82-year-old (he’ll turn 83 on August 15) Justice Stephen Breyer, one of three remaining reliable liberal votes on the Court. If Breyer’s seat somehow falls into Republican hands, jurisprudence in this country would be undeniably set for another quarter century at least.
Liberals would then have to pass their schemes the old-fashioned way -- by enacting legislation, a notion that truly frightens the stuffing out of their bloated brains.
It doesn’t matter to Democrats that even if Breyer were to retire tomorrow, there’s no guarantee that his replacement would be a dyed-in-the-wool liberal in the Justice Sonia Sotomayor mold. With a 50-50 tie in the senate and at least a couple Democrats acting as though they want to see bipartisan agreement on something, it’s possible that a Supreme Court scrum wouldn’t be as one-sided as “Chucky” and cohorts pretend it would be.
As far as expanding the number of justices goes, the likelihood of such a ridiculous idea coming to fruition anytime soon went out the window the moment Sen. Joe Manchin declared he wouldn’t vote to kill the filibuster. Good luck getting ten (or more) Republicans to sign-off on packing the Supreme Court under senile Joe Biden. Everyone knows the type of judge he would appoint.
What’s Michelle Obama doing these days?
Conservatives know Mitch McConnell is not a principled leader, but on the issue of judicial nominations, he’s been as lion-hearted as anyone in politics today. Democrats despise the Kentuckian because he won’t simply bow down and give them what they demand. It looks like they’ll have to win their victories in the political arena. Best of luck!
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