But please, tell me again how Republicans are bluffing when they talk about never allowing another Democratic Supreme Court nominee ever again when it's now the stated position of conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation?
The conservative group Heritage Action is pushing Republican senators to keep the Supreme Court at eight justices if Democrat Hillary Clinton is elected president.
In a Thursday morning briefing at the Heritage Foundation’s Washington headquarters on Capitol Hill, the group said Republicans should embrace the idea of leaving the Supreme Court without its ninth justice, perhaps for as long as five years.
Dan Holler, Heritage Action’s vice president of communications and government relations, signaled that this year’s Republican blockade of President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, is just the beginning of a fight that could last the entire first term of a Clinton presidency.
“You’ve seen John McCain and others talk about the need to not confirm any liberal nominated to the Supreme Court,” Holler said. “That’s exactly the right position to have.”
It’s “unacceptable,” he added, for moderate Republican senators to roll over and allow a President Clinton to shift the court radically to the left.
Holler said the obstruction of any Clinton Supreme Court appointee is going to require “an immense amount of willpower” from Senate Republicans.
Republicans have normalized racism, misogyny, religious bigotry, anti-LGBT hatred and violent persecution of political opponents. What's the normalization of a eight-person Supreme Court among friends, right?
Pressed on whether he was comfortable going five years without a ninth Supreme Court justice, Holler said there’s “nothing sacrosanct about the number of nine justices.”
“The system that we have set up is one of checks and balances,” he said on Thursday. “The president can certainly nominate somebody, but it’s incumbent upon the Senate to say ‘yes, this person is suitable for that role.’"
“And it’s perfectly within the realm of Republican senators’ rights and prerogatives and with the Constitution and what they campaigned on,” he added, “to say ‘this person will not uphold the Constitution and therefore they don’t deserve to be appointed to the bench.’”
What all this means for Clinton, should she win the presidency, rides to a large extent on which party controls the Senate.
If Democrats win control over the Senate, the likely new majority leader, Charles Schumer (N.Y.), could deploy the so-called nuclear option for a Supreme Court nomination. That would mean changing Senate rules to allow nominees to be confirmed with a simple majority of 51 votes instead of the 60 required to break a Republican filibuster. It’s an extreme move, but not unimaginable given the stakes.
If Republicans hang on to the Senate, however, they can cause huge headaches for Clinton if enough of them buy into the Cruz-Heritage approach.
Holler wouldn’t discuss his private conversations and planning, but it seems clear that Heritage Action, the activist arm of the group, is going to aggressively take up this Supreme Court fight if Clinton wins.
He said he doesn’t accept the view — advanced by Democrats and the media — that obstructing Supreme Court justices is an electoral killer for Republicans.
He's right. Republicans control the majority of the Senate, have the largest margin of control in the House since the Great Depression, control a majority of governor's mansions and a majority of state legislatures. Literally the only thing they don't control in American politics is the White House, and they can happily neuter the presidency all they want to until frustrated Dems simply give up.
If Republicans still control the Senate in January, there will be at least two years of a blockade on everything, and they'll just blame Clinton for doing nothing and get away with it.
In a lot of ways control of the Senate is just as important as the White House, and this is why.