There is enormous one-sided reporting contending that Republicans are hypocrites for blocking the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland at the end of President Obama’s term in office and planning on proceeding with the confirmation of whomever President Trump nominates for the Supreme Court.
It is true that the Republicans said that they should not confirm Garland in a presidential election year – and now they are going to try to confirm a Trump nominee … in an election year. Of course, the media fails to mention that Democrats were arguing in favor of holding a vote on Garland – but now they are arguing that no appointment should be made in a presidential election year. So, who are the hypocrites?
There is no end of talking heads on television saying that Republicans are violating tradition … precedent … violating the rules. In fact, the only rule is the United States Constitution, and it says that Trump and the Republicans have every right to nominate and confirm a high court justice to replace the deceased Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In addition, according to the Constitution (the rules), the Republican-controlled Senate had every right to block the vote on Garland.
So, what about the traditional argument? The President’s critics are wrong about that. Tradition and precedent are more than just the 2016 presidential election. Tradition – in the long sense — is actually on the Republican’s side.
Since the founding of our Republic, there have been 29 Supreme Court vacancies that arose in a presidential election year – and 29 presidential nominations. Imagine that … 29! But it gets more interesting when you analyze what happened to those 29 nominations.
There were 19 instances in which the White House and the Senate were controlled by the same party. Of those 19 nominations, 17 were confirmed – regardless of which party happened to be in control. There were 10 instances in which the White House and the Senate were held by different parties. In that case, only one of the 10 nominees was confirmed.
What happened in 2016 – when one party (Democrats) held the White House and a different party (Republicans) controlled the Senate, the nominee, Merrick Garland, was defeated ACCORDING TO TRADITION. In 2018, Republicans had the White House and the Senate and the nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, was confirmed. This presidential year, Republicans have the White House and the Senate. ACCORDING TO TRADITION, they should – and probably will – seat the new justice on the Supreme Court.
The tradition continues because that is what the rules (the Constitution) allow. That is how politics work. That is what we mean when we remind ourselves that elections have consequences.
Democrats can squeal like a punctured porker, but they are wrong on both the rules AND the tradition.
So, there ‘tis.
Editor’s Note: Thought I would include this link, just to be funny: