Will Senate Republicans Buckle on Obama’s Court Pick?
According to Senator Mitch McConnell’s office, the majority leader is determined to stick by his promise to let the voters decide who will nominate the next Supreme Court justice.
“The Leader has been clear: The next president will make the nomination for this vacancy,” said McConnell’s deputy chief of staff.
With Trump’s poll numbers looking grim, though, there is some talk of a dilemma. If Hillary Clinton gets to choose the individual who will replace the late Antonin Scalia – with, perhaps, a Democrat-controlled Senate to back her – she may find someone much more liberal than Merrick Garland. Garland is likely to side with the liberals on today’s court more often than not, but one can imagine worse scenarios. If Clinton gets to make this choice without any particular pressure to appease Republicans, we may not have to imagine.
Of course, Democrats are playing this for all its worth. Speaking to Meet the Press last Sunday, Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, hinted that Garland may not remain the choice after the election. “This will be for the president and the president-elect to decide,” he said.
It’s natural that McConnell and other Senate Republicans might rethink their position, especially if Clinton comes up victorious in November. You can even come up with some very good, very sound reasons for them to capitulate on Garland. Weighed out carefully, a confirmation vote could be the wisest option.
But that’s only if you take the promise out of the equation, which is no longer a viable option for McConnell. It’s there, it’s been made, and there’s no going back. At least, not if McConnell is a man of integrity and principle. Hillary Clinton could win the White House, Democrats could win the Senate, and the president-elect could promise to nominate Liberal Larry Liarson to the Supreme Court. Even with all of that, no real dilemma should exist. For McConnell, there is only one option: Remain true to your word.
The fact that there are even rumblings of another path means one of two things: Either the media and the Democrats are trying to invent a dilemma that does not exist for their own selfish purposes, or McConnell has lost touch with the most basic ingredient of human integrity. And with him, any Republican who drew a line in the sand on this vote and is now thinking about erasing it.
We’ve come to the point where we treat promises and vows and declarations and commitments as meaningless things that can be tossed away when it becomes easier – or even “smarter” – to do that than to keep them sacred. We’re not going to eliminate lying politicians in our lifetime, but we should at least shine a light on them. And we should recall their deceit the next time they give us their word.