After Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced that he is retiring at the end of July, Democrats went into an immediate meltdown and conservatives feasted on a fine repast of schadenfreude and washed it down with leftist tears.
President Trump now has another opportunity to nominate and appoint a constitutionalist judge to the highest court of the land. But if the left’s behavior is any indication, it won’t happen without a fight.
Avenge Merrick Garland
You might remember the battle over Merrick Garland, the judge that President Obama nominated after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Garland was known as a moderate, having received praise from both sides of the aisle. However, since Scalia’s passing occurred in a presidential election year, GOP lawmakers announced that they would not confirm any Supreme Court Justices until after the election was decided.
“The American people should have a say in the court’s direction,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “It is a president’s constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court Justice and it is the Senate’s constitutional right to act as a check on the president and withhold its consent.”
Well, you know the rest of the story. President Trump was elected, and after a grueling battle in Congress, his appointee, Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed. The Democrats were not happy, and now they are attempting to force the president to wait until after the midterm elections to nominate the next Supreme Court Justice. Unfortunately, their arguments are falling flat so far.
Mistakes Come Back to Haunt Them
The left’s contention that the GOP is being hypocritical is erroneous for several reasons. McConnell’s decision was based on the fact that 2016 was a presidential election year. Even The Washington Post, a left-leaning news outlet, argued that the Republicans are not guilty of hypocrisy in this matter. “Bottom line: it’s pretty clear the debate in 2016 revolved around nominations made in a presidential election year. Democrats are simply spinning a false narrative,” they wrote.
Moreover, while the Democrats claimed that the lawmaker’s argument was unprecedented, it had actually been proposed previously, by none other than Joe Biden in 1992. Lastly, Justice Elena Kagan was nominated to the Supreme Court in 2010, which was another midterm election year.
The Democrats are in a difficult situation, but it is one of their own making. Not only are their arguments not effective, they also greatly reduced their chances of blocking Trump’s next nominee in 2013, when they invoked the “nuclear option.” Previously, 60 votes were required to confirm a Supreme Court Justice. In 2013, the Democrats changed this rule so that only a simple majority was needed.
This means that it will be an incredible challenge for them to prevent the president from appointing another justice before the election. When the Democrats altered the rules, McConnell warned them that it could come back to bite them. “You’ll regret this, and you may regret this a lot sooner than you think,” he said. Truer words were never spoken.
While the Democrats are at a severe disadvantage, they will still put up a fight. It appears that they are hoping to flip Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, who might be leery about confirming a justice that could threaten the status of abortion. These two lawmakers have gone head to head with Trump in the past over healthcare and other issues, but it is not yet known where they stand on appointing a new justice before the midterm elections. Either way, it is clear that we are in for a heated battle over Kennedy’s replacement.