Mitch McConnell, the Republican U.S. Senate Majority Leader, has come out strongly against President Obama on a number of issues including his decision to submit Merrick Garland to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died earlier this year.
Many believe that the Senator is immovable on the allowance of a vote, and with his Sunday appearance on Fox News, there is reasonable evidence of this.
Mitch McConnell has gone so far in his fight against Obama’s SCOTUS pick to say that Republicans will observe “the Biden Rule” of delaying the vote until a new President is in office.
McConnell attests that “the voters should decide” instead of a “lame duck” President.
However, he has shown a crack in his refusal, offering a stipulation in which Republicans might entertain Garland. However, President Obama isn’t likely to appreciate it.
In a report from Think Progress, Mitch McConnell is quoted as saying that no new Supreme Court Justice will be picked until the National Rifle Association (NRA) approves of the nominee.
Specifically, McConnell said he “can’t imagine that a Republican majority in the United States Senate would want to confirm, in a lame duck session, a nominee opposed by the National Rifle Association [and] the National Federation of Independent Businesses.”
Think Progress contributor Ian Millhiser said this statement proves the idea of letting the people decide on a Supreme Court pick “is a sham,” and he is not entirely wrong.
Still, Republicans do have a strong argument for sitting on the pick and allowing the next President to have a say. This was the argument created by current Vice President Joe Biden in the video below (from 24 years ago).
Biden responded after the video went public noting that he “presided over the consideration of Justice Kennedy, Reagan nominee, who was confirmed in a Presidential year.”
His response is being characterized by Republicans as disingenuous since the video above quite clearly shows him taking the same position as the current Senate majority. While Biden did allow the vote to go through, he was, simply, outnumbered in his belief at the time that the next President should pick.
The fact that Kennedy was confirmed had little to do with Biden’s preference, in other words.
This was something that Mitch McConnell had a field day with late last week on the floor of the Senate.
“Let me remind colleagues of what Vice President Biden said when he was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee here in the Senate,” McConnell began, quoting Biden’s words that it would be “our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season is under way, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination should be put off until after the election campaign is over.”
Biden also said that what would be fair to the nominee and central to the process would be to put off the decision for the next President.
“Otherwise, it seems to me we would be in trouble as an institution,” Biden continued.
“Others may fret that this approach would leave the Court with only eight members for some time. But as I see it … the cost of such a result that we would have to re-argue three or four cases that would divide the Justices 4-4 are quite minor compared to the cost of a nominee the President, the Senate, and the Nation would have to pay for what would assuredly be a bitter fight no matter how good a person is nominated.”
At this point, it is unlikely that President Obama will get to pick the next SCOTUS Justice, especially now that Mitch McConnell has set the ground rules for what it would take to get him or her confirmed.
[Image via Flickr Creative Commons/Gage Skidmore]