It should come as no surprise that President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will move swiftly to confirm a Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before Inauguration Day. And why shouldn’t they?
I often say that “hypocrisy” is not an affliction of politics. It is a condition of employment. It is already in full view as the Republicans and Democrats debate the very justification for confirming a Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year.
Democrats and the east coast media cabal are quick to note that McConnell – and his Republican Senate majority – refused to advance the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland in the final year of the Obama term in the hope that Donald Trump would win the election. The strategy worked and Neil Gorsuch – not Garland – joined the high court.
Republicans are now determined to move ahead with a nomination even closer to Election Day. Some Republican senators have said in the past that they would not vote on a Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year. But that was then, and this is now. Most will undoubtedly explain their change-of-heart.
While the biased media points to what they declare to be “Republican hypocrisy,” they fail to report that it is counterbalanced by Democrat hypocrisy. Back in 1992, Democrats spiritedly embraced a newly concocted “Biden Rule” against confirming Supreme Court nominees in PRESIDENTIAL election years. The so-called “rule” was ironically proffered by then-Senate Judiciary Chairman Joe Biden. Of course, it was never a real rule, just a political ploy to hypothetically discourage President Bush from nominating a Supreme Court justice in his last year in office.
When Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly in 2016, Democrats kicked that Biden Rule to the curb and hypocritically argued for the confirmation of Garland in a presidential election year. When Justice Anthony Kennedy retired in 2018, Democrats once again reversed course to invoke the Biden Rule in an attempt to block the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh – even though it was a midterm election year as opposed to a presidential election year. In other words, the “rule” was expanded because Democrats were hoping to take control of the Senate that year.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer led the Democrats reversal for the Garland nomination. He dropped the Biden Rule like a Jeffery Epstein campaign contribution to become a strong proponent of confirming Garland in a presidential election year.
Schumer has AGAIN switched positions. He responded to the death of Ginsburg by taking the wooden stake out of the heart of the Biden Rule and declaring that no nominee should be confirmed in a presidential election year. If it be hypocrisy to switch positions for pragmatic political reasons, Schumer and the Democrats are as guilty as McConnell and the Republicans.
If Democrats were in the same position Republicans are in today, they would do the same thing. We know that because that is what they tried to do in 2016.
Forget the inbred hypocrisy of politics. Forget the Biden Rule. Politics is all about the powers our Constitution provides to our leaders. Elections have consequences. We should expect – nay, demand – that our elected leaders do what the people empower them to do. It was we the people who elected President Trump and who handed the Senate majority to the Republicans. Their moral obligation is to do what we sent them to do.
Republicans favor conservative, strict-constructionist Supreme Court justices. The voters put Republicans in charge of that aspiration. All the Biden Rule/presidential election year debate is nonsense – political theatre. Republicans should do what they were empowered to do by the people. I suspect they will.
So, there ‘tis.