Saturday, February 13, 2016

Yes, Obama can nominate Scalia's successor

It's a bit unseemly to be fighting like hyenas before Antonin Scalia's body is even cold, but such a fight is exactly what the majority leader of our supposedly august and wise legislative house, the Senate, has started:
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican majority leader, said in a statement. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
Ted Cruz, that inveterate opportunist, also chimed in, as did Chuck Grassley, though at least Grassley didn't try to pretend his partisanship was high-minded:
Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, agreed [with McConnell], citing “the huge divide in the country and the fact that this president, above all others, has made no bones about his goal to use the courts to circumvent Congress and push through his own agenda.”
Yeah, and you and your fellow Republicans can hold up any number of statesmanlike figures who would never dream of making it their goal to use the courts just that way, Senator. But like I said, at least you didn't pretend to be more virtuous than you are.

On the other hand, Sen. McConnell, what's this about the people "should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice"? Guess what? We did. We elected Mr. Obama — twice. The people spoke loud and clear, Senator: you just didn't like the message. Obama still has eleven months as President, and he's damned well entitled to send up a nominee for confirmation. Get over it.

Now, the political reality is, Senate Republicans can and almost certainly will block any nominee until at least the next President takes office (if not later), so as a practical matter, Obama will almost certainly not be able to replace Scalia. However, this pretense of high-mindedness by McConnell and Cruz (via Twitter: "We owe it to him, & the Nation, for the Senate to ensure that the next President names his replacement.") is a bad joke. You shot your high horses long ago, gents, so get off them.

President Obama will send up a nominee because he's legally entitled to do so. We know Republicans will derail the nomination. But can they at least stop putting on ludicrous airs in the process?

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