Obama Mounts High Horse on Supreme Court Nomination

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Democrats from Elizabeth Warren to Hillary Clinton have been shouting to anyone who will listen that President Obama should nominate a new Supreme Court Justice to replace the fallen conservative hero, Antonin Scalia. On Tuesday, Obama himself addressed the subject, demanding that Republicans come up with a legitimate reason to block a nominee.

“The Constitution is pretty clear about what is supposed to happen now,” Obama said at a California press conference. “There’s no unwritten law that says that it can only be done on off years. That’s not in the constitutional text.”

Obama’s moral high ground is somewhat mitigated by the inconvenient fact that he himself tried to block the confirmation of Justice Samuel Alito in 2005, a bit of hypocrisy he tried to downplay. “I think what’s fair to say is that how judicial nominations have evolved over time is not historically the fault of any single party,” he said. “What is also true is Justice Alito is on the bench right now.”

True enough, but what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Obama’s trying to make it sound like Republicans in the Senate are in violation of their constitutional duty, and that’s a heavy-handed charge given his own history.

“We’ve almost gotten accustomed to how obstructionist the Senate has become when it comes to nominations,” Obama said.

That’s a good thing. Whether you want to use the term “obstructionist” or not, this partisan fight is what our system of government is all about. It’s not about Congress, the Supreme Court, and the White House all working in tandem, each of them rubber-stamping the other branch’s decisions. As much as the word “gridlock” has become an expletive, it is one of the most important features of our democracy. Better to go two sessions with a incomplete Supreme Court than to let this liberal president forever change the course of the judicial branch.

Senate Republicans had better be careful here. Their failure to effectively oppose this president is directly responsible for the voter outrage that has thrown the 2016 election into chaos. If history repeats itself this time – a period of tough talk followed by utter capitulation – there will be hell to pay. Obama has made a mockery of the legislative branch for the last seven years, undermining congressional authority whenever it suited his agenda. Now he wants to play Mr. Constitution? Seriously?

To be sure, blocking Obama’s nominee will have political consequences. A confirmation, though, would be the single biggest nail in the coffin of American conservatism in modern history. The choice is obvious. Let’s pray that Republicans can see that.