Sunday, February 14, 2016

Eight Is Apparently Enough

I agree with WaPo's Amber Phillips that there's no reason, given the behavior of the GOP over the last seven years, to believe that Mitch McConnell will even allow a vote on confirming his Supreme Court nominee to replace Scalia. 

Come January 2017, Republicans have a chance at controlling the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House.

So it stands to reason that Republicans have very little incentive to even consider President Obama's suggestion for who should replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died Saturday.

There's some historical precedent for them to do just that. A hazy rule dating back decades that congressional experts say is really more of a tradition suggests senators of the opposition party of the White House can oppose some judicial nominations in the months before a presidential election.

It's known as the "Thurmond Rule," for reasons we'll get into, but there is widespread disagreement on what it even means and when it can be invoked.

"It's not a rule," said Russell Wheeler, a judicial expert with the Brookings Institution. "It's just sort of a pie-in-the-sky flexibility that both parties try to disown when it's convenient for them and try to say it means something when it's not."

Whether rule or tradition, it pops up throughout history in times like these, when a high-stakes judicial nomination collides with a presidential election.

But Wheeler and other congressional experts think the rule is less in-play now than in the past. Republicans have control of the Senate and can simply sit on the nomination if they want -- no matter how much the other side cries foul.

If the very real prospect of someone like Donald Trump appointing a Supreme Court Justice doesn't scare the crap out of the "Not a dime's worth of difference between the parties" voters turned off by Hillary or Bernie, then we deserve what we get.

But considering voters haven't bothered to punish the GOP Congress at all and in fact have rewarded them at every turn, there's no reason to believe that a President Sanders or Clinton would be able to get anyone confirmed either.

Don't expect this vacancy to be filled.  Hell, I half expect calls from the GOP and the Broderites to either appoint a right-wing nut like Scalia or for Justice Ginsberg to retire to make a seven-justice SCOTUS "fair".

This is the entire ball game for the GOP if Scalia is replace by a liberal justice, and they damn well know it.  They will resist by any and every means necessary.  You thought they hated Obama before?

You have no idea.

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