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Tuesday, March 29, 2016
Mitch McConnell: The Coward of Kentucky
As we discussed here on Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has made a firm stand on what seems to me to be an untenable position: the Senate will not have hearings to confirm the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court…or anyone else that President Obama may care to nominate.
Obama’s opponents on the right are the one who consistently chastise the President for his alleged lack of fidelity to the US Constitution, particularly the use of Executive Orders to accomplish things that are left undone by a recalcitrant Congress. But on the matter of nominating judges to the Supreme Court, the US Constitution is quite clear: the President gets to nominate someone to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. And the President has done so in the person of Merrick Garland who, by almost any standard and in any other time would be considered a shoo-in for confirmation.
And that brings us to the next step of this process as established in the US Constitution, the role of the Senate to advise and consent on the President’s nominee. Herein lies the problem as Mitch McConnell is refusing to act on this Constitutional role because of this idea that the President shouldn’t be nominating people to the Supreme Court in his last year in office. At this late stage, the people should have a say in the nominee to the Supreme Court and thus should be left up to the next President.
As I also noted in Friday’s post, there are so many risks of this blowing up in the Republican’s faces. Can a hard right nominee from President Cruz have a chance to getting past the Senate any more than a liberal one would? Who knows what kind of person President Trump would nominate. And a President Sanders nominee would definitely be to the left and let’s face it, if Sanders were to win the Democratic nomination this summer and go on to win the general election, there’s a very good chance that the Senate majority would switch too with a Democratic majority more than willing to sign off that nominee. And President Hillary Clinton would not likely nominate anyone much different from Merrick Garland except to be a lot younger so he or she will be on the court longer.
The point is that President Obama’s chosen nominee to the Supreme Court really threads the needle for broad range support in the Senate. The only real objections I’ve heard have been from the extreme hard right who doubt Garland would vote to overturn Roe V. Wade and the extreme left wing who think Garland represents Obama forsaking liberal policies for the sake of seeking conservative consensus.
Here’s something else that’s in the US Constitution: how long a President gets to be President which is at least four years but no more than eight, barring of course death, resignation or impeachment. In short, the President is still the President and gets to do what the President can do for as long as the President remains the President. The same thing, by the way, applies to US Senators. But while the President has done his job per the US Constitution, Senate Republicans are refusing to honor their responsibilities as per that same Constitution.
You might wonder why this happening. There are a lot of people who see this the way I do with overwhelming public opinion in favor of everyone doing what they are supposed to do.
But don’t expect Senate Republicans to cave to the pressure of overwhelming public opinion because there is a more powerful force at work here: the right wing.
Take a look at Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) who has broken from party leadership to say the Senate should get to work and take up hearings on Garland’s nomination. Immediately, the conservative Judicial Crisis Network and the Tea Party Patriots threatened action against the Senator in the form of negative advertising and backing a primary challenger in the next election. In the meantime, those and other similar organization have spent millions of dollars in support of McConnell and other like minded Republicans.
Get a load of this quote: "If Republican senators can't fulfill the basic task of defending the Constitution, they should be defeated at the ballot box," said Ken Cuccinelli of the Senate Conservatives Fund. I’m not sure how NOT doing the work specified by the Constitution is considered defending the Constitution but that’s how these guys roll. Anyway, McConnell has gotten the message. While the majority of Americans want the Senate to do its job, it’s not about serving those Americans. It’s about appeasing the core constituencies back home who don’t want anyone in Congress to do anything Obama wants. And that, dear reader, is where the money is.
Mitch McConnell is blocking the Senate from acting on its constitutional obligations in order to preserve his own job and he’s afraid he’ll lose his job if he doesn’t throw down with the hard right wing nuts who run the Republican Party these days.
This whole drama in the US Senate, this refusal to do the work of the people as set forth by the US Constitution, is simply because Mitch McConnell is a coward.
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Everyone, be good to one another.
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