With Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia’s passing, there has been a lot of chatter about the strong possibility that Republicans in the Senate will attempt a scorched-earth opposition to any nominee Obama proposes (at least one Republican senator has said as much). Since even the cool kids are doing listicles these days, here are some thoughts on the matter:
1. The Republicans are doing the right thing (for them). If they–or their supporters–truly believe that any Democratic appointee will rule poorly, then they should oppose Obama’s nominees. If there’s no political price to be paid–and there very well maybe in 2016–then why wouldn’t they do so? If positions were reversed, I would want the Democrats to fight like hell.
2. Too many Democrats are making procedural/Robert’s Rules of Order types of arguments against Republican opposition. People do not care about arcane rules. They typically care about results.
3. People don’t care about the supposed sanctity of a broken (or at least heavily sprained) system. If you argue, “This could harm the system”, many will respond, “Good!” Have you been paying attention to either party’s primary?
4. A 4-4 tie isn’t the end of the world. The historical irony of conservative judicial activism being thwarted by an institutional roadblock should not be lost on anyone. Enjoy it while it lasts.
5. The key thing: Democrats need to make an affirmative case for their nominee(s). As noted in points #2 and #3, most people don’t give a shit about rules and decorum when the stakes are high. The best way to harm the Republicans–and possibly get the GOP to cave–is to explain why the Democratic nominee is someone worth nominating. This, of course, means Obama has to put forth someone who is a good candidate (and I use candidate intentionally). There is an opportunity to make many good political points here–and show just how lunatic the Republican Party is. Take this opportunity.
Announcing their intent to block before any names are names looks bad.
McConnell may be correct in assuming that many of his donors (constituents don’t matter) would prefer an empty seat to a 3rd competent SCOTUS appointment by Obama. But any Republicans up for reelection this year will be ready to beat Mitch’s feet with a rubber hose. Voters are turned off by these nuclear tactics, like the budget shutdowns of years past. Voters have short memories, but SCOTUS nominations are high profile.
So, let’s say Obama sends 2 or 3 very strong, very visible (Harvard, female, Indian, black) candidates and none of them gets a vote after a reasonable delay. What’s to keep O from appointing someone by executive order? Likely unConstitional, yea, but maybe we should let the Supreme Court decide that… which is currently 4-4.
Was your Supreme Court always so political and apparently divorced from actually interpreting the law?