Mitch McConnell is back at it. The Senate Majority Leader who once vowed to do what was necessary to make Obama a one term President is once again putting politics ahead of the Country. He has said Obama—whom he calls a “lame duck”– would be wasting his time to nominate a replacement for Antonin Scalia. Never mind that Scalia himself was a strict constructionist and the Constitution clearly states that the President shall nominate federal judges. Never mind that Obama won’t be a “lame duck” until after the November election. Forget that the President was elected. Get over the fact that several key issues are before the Court this year.
Has McConnell ever heard the expression, “The “devil” you know is better than the devil you don’t know?” Obama’s Supreme Court appointees have been pretty solid. Would a Trump, Sanders or Clinton nominee necessarily be as friendly to McConnell’s political sensitivities?
After briefly changing their modus operandi once Paul Ryan became Speaker, the republican leadership is back to playing politics. They already forgot that 2016 is an election year for the entire House and a third of the Senate. Obstruction has reared its head after a fleeting absence. A President whose annual budgets have added 60% less to the national debt in the last few years is being called someone who doesn’t care about the national debt!
If I were advising the President I would argue that he should appoint someone such as Utah Senator Orrin Hatch to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. Filling the seat with someone such as Hatch, an acknowledged conservative who is widely respected on the right, would preserve the high court’s balance. Maintaining an existing balance may go against custom, but we are in unusual times. That balance is quite possibly more important now than it has been in a hundred years.
On such an evenly divided Court, unpredictable Chief Justice Roberts would still have the deciding vote. Obama would guarantee himself a place in history as someone who cared more about the Country than partisan politics. The far right would have a tough time spinning such a move. Mitch McConnell wouldn’t know what to do and the Senate Judiciary committee would be forced to consider the nomination.
The only downside I can think of is that Obama’s base would have trouble understanding the value of a Court with ideological balance and feel betrayed. Fortunately a second term President doesn’t have to be that concerned about the heat of the moment.
Gary Kent, Albion