Republicans, in what is increasingly looking like a Trump vs Cruz deathmatch on the set of Mad Max Fury Road, are themselves laying the groundwork for never replacing Scalia. At least, not by a Democrat.
Dean Reuter, vice president of the Federalist Society, hinted that there might even be too many justices, reported Right Wing Watch.
“There’s no time limit in the Constitution, and there’s nothing magical about there being nine justices,” Reuter said during a panel meeting at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
“The country started out with six justices, we’ve had as many as ten at some point in time,” he continued. “As recently as 2010, when Justice Elena Kagan came on the Court, she had been solicitor general so she recused herself in over a third of the cases (so) I don’t see a sense of urgency.”
Reuter led a brief workshop last week at CPAC with John Yoo, the author of the infamous “torture memos” as a member of the Bush administration, on topics covered in their new book, “Liberty’s Nemesis: The Unchecked Expansion of the State.”
“The president surely does have a duty to nominate someone, but the Senate has a co-equal duty as a co-equal branch of government, to in this case operate as a check,” Reuter argued. “It doesn’t have any responsibility or any duty to host one-on-one meetings with the nominee, or hold a hearing, or hold a committee vote, or a floor vote. There’s no timetable. It’s not as if the president sends somebody over and says, we need this back next month, or next Wednesday, or whatever.”
Reuter, whose group shepherded Samuel Alito’s nomination through the Senate, suggested that Supreme Court appointments were an example of executive overreach.
“The Senate is perfectly well within its prerogative, even the proper understanding of checks and balances, it can easily be said that the role of the Senate is to check the president’s power in this instance, the appointment power, especially I think when you’re dealing with a third branch of government and a lifetime appointment,” he argued.
I've said for months that this would end up being the GOP's view. Right now, the argument is "let the people decide" but they're losing the battle for public opinion on that. Putting a face on the nomination would give Republicans a target and a fight, but that could easily backfire too.
Do I think the GOP will be able to get away with it? Until and unless voters turn the Senate back over to the Democrats, yes. That could very well happen if they nominate Cruz or Trump, in which case that sets up a battle over the filibuster in 2017.
But that's down the road, A lot could change and the GOP could very well fold. But I don't think it's likely. The notion that the GOP simply shouldn't allow a replacement at all will be with us for some time.