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Jerry Shenk


The Democrats' Supreme Dream

by Jerry Shenk
 

Washington Democrats are demanding confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee
to replace the late Antonin Scalia before President Barack Obama leaves
office.

Mitch McConnell probably won 't allow it. In 2014, by fourteen percent, Kentucky
reelected Senate Majority Leader McConnell to another six-year term. Even if
Kentucky voters disagree, McConnell won't face them again until 2020.

The liberal Huffington Postreported a White House strategy to "shame" Senate Republicans into compliance: "Party officials are turning to a shaming campaign, seeking to badger Senate Republicans and label them obstructionists, in hopes that a few of them -- presumably those with uphill re-election battles -- will stop echoing the party line." Good luck with that.

If a nominee reaches, but is stalled in committee, Democrats could file a
"motion to discharge." Passage would force a floor vote. But they would need
all forty-four Senate Democrats, both Democrat-aligned Independents plus
fourteen Republicans to vote for the motion. There aren't fourteen
vulnerable Senate Republicans running in 2016, and no one believes that
voting for the president's nominee will make anyone's Democratic rival any
friendlier during this year's Senate races. If every nervous reelection-seeking Republican like Senator Mark Kirk capitulated and urged hearings, confirmation would still fail.

If Democrats were to regain the Senate in November and win the presidency,
patience would reward them, but Democratic pressure to immediately nominate
and confirm signals their underlying pessimism about either outcome. There's
no constitutional imperative for haste. The president can nominate or leave the decision to his successor. If he nominates, the Senate can delay, confirm or reject a nominee without constitutional consequences.

In 1987, Ronald Reagan's final year in office, The New York Times
editorial board urged the Senate to reject the nomination of Robert Bork: "The President's supporters insist vehemently that, having won the 1984 election, he has every right to try to change the Court's direction. Yes, but the Democrats won the 1986 election, regaining control of the Senate, and they have every right to resist." Senate Democrats made Reagan's nominee a transitive verb: "to Bork."

VP Joe Biden is now furiously trying to walk back his 1992 Senate opposition
to a Bush 41 lame-duck nominee.

In Bush 43's final year, Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer argued: "We should
not confirm any Bush nominee to the Supreme Court except in extraordinary
circumstances. They must prove by actions not words that they are in the
mainstream . I will do everything in my power to prevent one more
ideological ally from joining Roberts and Alito on the court." Translated,
Schumer declared an opposition party's right to reject any presidential
court nominee who fails to meet the opposition's definition of "mainstream."

Democratic shoe, meet other foot. Clearly, impatient Democrats possess only
limited self-awareness and no sense of irony at all.

Former Senator Barack Obama is the first president who voted to filibuster a
predecessor's nominee, Samuel Alito. He also voted against John Roberts, the Chief Justice who saved Obamacare -- twice.

Ironic, huh?


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