Some advice for Mitch McConnell
First, a bit of looking at the reality of the next appointment to the Supreme Court. With the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer, President Biden has been handed the opportunity to name the replacement. That is one of those “elections have consequence” realities.
We can safely bet that the Biden nominee – and the next person to join the bench – will be a black woman. It will be a Democrat. It will be a liberal. No getting around that. It is also important that it will not change the balance of the Court.
So, what role should Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the GOP senators do about it. Since there is no way to stop the facts noted above, how hard should Senate Republicans fight the potential nominee. In my judgment, not very much. The most important battle is to prevent Biden from nominating the most radical candidate.
There is not enough time to stop a nomination from going up for a vote before the 2022 Midterm Elections. And even if the Republicans were to take control of the Senate, there is definitely not enough time to hold up a nomination until January of 2023.
McConnell held up the Merrick Garland nomination BECAUSE there was a PRESIDENTIAL election coming up. He took a longshot gamble that it would be a Republican in the White House – and that would change the reality. And he won his bet. No matter what happens in 2022, Biden will still be in the White House for more than two years. It would be impossible and stupid to even try to keep the seat open until January of 2025.
Republicans should not be going to the mat for an impossible objective – or some damaging devotion to symbolism. Even that would not work.
Democrats are counting on Republican senators to get vicious – especially the presidential contenders on the Judiciary Committee that will hold the confirmation hearings. Beating up on a black lady is one of the standard accusations in the Democrat playbook. That could cost the GOP some votes in November – and frankly not help the GOP in general.
So, what can McConnell do?
He should use the time Biden has provided to discuss the likely nominees with not only the members of his GOP caucus, but with key moderate Democrats – such as Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. And there are other Democrats who might vote against the more extreme candidates.
McConnell can give Biden bipartisan support, but ONLY if the nominee is not one of the more extreme. While there is much to be learned about the potential nominees. I would consider it a victory if a combine of Republicans and moderate Democrat senators made the nomination of D.C. Appellate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson dead on arrival. Better yet, convince Biden not to nominate her.
McConnell and the Republicans have their greatest influence by using pressure to eliminate the more egregious nominees. This will totally anger Biden’s hardcore progressives – such as Congresswomen Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Pressley – but the left will be hard pressed to oppose the less extreme black female candidates.
Already, South Carolina Supreme Court Judge Michelle Childs has the support of powerful Democrat Congressman Jim Clyburn AND the states two Republican Senators, Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott. Democrats like Manchin would almost assuredly vote for her. He also would be very instrumental in telling Biden that his vote is not certain if the nominee is too far to the left. He did say he could support a nominee to his left – but did not say how far left.
If McConnell can use his power to prevent the seating of a radical leftwing judge – without looking like it is an attack on a black woman — he will have accomplished the best results possible. It would take away the Democrats effort to play the race and gender cards against Republicans. A bipartisan vote would show the voters that Republicans can govern in a two-party system.
The most important phase of the debate is before a nominee is named. This Supreme Court nomination is a hill that Republicans would fight to die on. If McConnell can stop the most radical nomination, it will be as much of a victory as is possible.
So, there ‘tis.