mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Illogical And Irresponsible”: GOP Response To Supreme Court Nomination Makes No Sense And Could Have Big Consequences

We are just beginning to see the consequences of the Senate Republicans’ refusal to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the court deadlocked 4-4 on a case involving public sector unions. The tied decision left current law in place, a victory for the unions, but not necessarily a victory for our system of government.

The decision is the second deadlock to come out of the court since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February. Last week, the court was evenly split on a case regarding possible bank discrimination.

How long can an evenly split court continue to function? Even in the face of the recent deadlocked decisions, Senate Republicans still refuse to consider the nomination of Merrick Garland for the seat left vacant by Scalia. Their refusal to move forward promises to render an entire branch of our government completely moot.

In a piece for Politico this week, University of Michigan Law School Professor Richard Primus sounds the alarm about the consequences of an incomplete court. He wrote: “A court with eight justices will often deadlock in contested cases, and therefore fail to execute the court’s major function: providing resolution on constitutional issues where the lower courts disagree.” A court that can’t function effectively is dangerous to the delicate balance of power our democracy is built upon. It disables an entire branch of government, removing an important check on the other two. Republicans’ refusal to consider Obama’s nominee means the U.S. Senate is failing in its duty to ensure the continuity of our government and move the country forward. They should reverse course immediately.

Consideration of the nominee does not equate to confirmation. If, after thoroughly vetting Garland, Senate Republicans still find him objectionable, they can vote him down and invite Obama to submit another nominee. This process can continue until both sides arrive at a mutually agreeable result. But to insist that because Obama is in his last year of office the province of filling the Supreme Court vacancy belongs to someone else is irresponsible.

Following that line of thought, all of the House and one-third of the Senate should refrain from voting on anything during election years in case their potential successors might decide something differently. Office holders do not vacate their powers and responsibilities until they are out of office. Obama is still the president. He can take us to war, sign bills into law and nominate Supreme Court Justices. The logic behind the Senate Republicans’ actions is flawed and can have far-reaching consequences.

For over 200 years now, this country has been blessed with peaceful transitions of power that have ensured the survival of our democracy. Administrations have come and gone and political parties have won and lost without creating the instability that is rampant in other parts of the world. This has happened, for the most part, because everyone involved has respected the system enough to let it work. Senate Republicans should let the system work and consider Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court. Any other course of action starts to put our stability at risk.

 

By: Cary Gibson, Thomas Jefferson Street Blog, U. S. News and World Report, April 1, 2016

April 3, 2016 Posted by | Democracy, Senate Republicans, U. S. Constitution, U. S. Supreme Court Nominees | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Let’s Do Our Jobs”: Maybe It’s Time For The ‘Grassley Rule’

The Democratic line on the ongoing Supreme Court fight is pretty straightforward. Indeed, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) summarized it well a couple of weeks ago when she told her Republican colleagues, “Do your job.”

For weeks, the Republican response has been rooted in semantics. Technically, the Constitution gives the Senate an “advise and consent” role in the confirmation process, but since the document doesn’t literally say senators have to vote on a nominee, the GOP argument goes, then maybe Republicans can do their jobs by refusing to do their jobs.

It’s a clumsy and unpersuasive pitch, but that’s the talking point and they’re sticking to it.

At least, that’s the argument now. Right Wing Watch yesterday dug up an interesting quote from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who said in 2005, in reference to judicial confirmations, “Let’s do our jobs.”

Eleven years ago, with a Republican in the White House, Grassley was emphatic that the Senate act quickly on the president’s judicial nominations, telling colleagues that slowing down the confirmation process was “like being a bully on the schoolyard playground.”

According to Grassley in 2005, for the Senate to do its job, George W. Bush’s nominees would have to receive up-or-down votes.

In May 2005, Grassley said to deny a senator an up-or-down vote on a judicial nominee would be to undermine a senator’s “constitutional responsibility.”

Perhaps, the right will argue, standards change when it’s a seat on the Supreme Court at stake. Maybe so. But the same Right Wing Watch report noted that when then-President George W. Bush nominated Samuel Alito to the high court Grassley issued a fascinating press release quoting Alexander Hamilton:

The Constitution provides that the President nominates a Supreme Court Justice, and the Senate provides its advice and consent, with an up or down vote. In Federalist 66, Alexander Hamilton wrote, “it will be the office of the President to nominate, and, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint. There will, of course, be no exertion of choice on the part of the Senate. They may defeat one choice of the Executive, and oblige him to make another; but they cannot themselves choose – they can only ratify or reject the choice he may have made.”

Grassley now believes, however, that he has the authority to block a qualified Supreme Court nominee from even receiving a confirmation hearing.

Obviously, 2005 Grassley would be outraged by 2016 Grassley. In fact, given Senate Republicans’ propensity for making up “rules” out of whole cloth, perhaps these new revelations could serve as the basis for a Grassley Rule: in order for senators to do their job, they actually have to consider Supreme Court nominees.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 8, 2016

April 2, 2016 Posted by | Chuck Grassley, Merrick Garland, Senate Republicans, U. S. Supreme Court Nominees | , , , , | Leave a comment

“McConnell’s “Three No’s” Under Fire”: No Meetings, No Hearings, No Vote

I have to admit that Senator McConnell’s ability to keep his troops of Republican Senators in line over these last seven years has been what some might call “impressive.” The plan to totally obstruct anything President Obama and Democrats attempted to do meant that he had to get Senators from traditionally blue/swing states to go along. Time after time we witnessed his ability to do that.

Shortly after the death of Justice Scalia, McConnell announced the ultimate in total obstruction tactics. He issued three “no’s” to any nominee put forward by this President: no meetings, no hearings, no vote. But on this one, he hasn’t managed to make it stick.

A quarter of Republican Senators (16) have announced that they will meet with Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. Last week, three Senators came out in favor of holding hearings: Kirk, Collins and Moran. And now, Senator Kirk has said that he would consider voting for Garland.

Sen. Mark Kirk on Tuesday became the first Republican to say he might be willing to vote for President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

“Obviously I would consider voting for him,” the Illinois senator told reporters before he met with the nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. “That’s the whole purpose.”

While not going as far as Kirk, Senator Collins indicated something similar.

“The President, whether Republicans like him or not, is our President until next January, until Inauguration Day and it just seemed to me that there was no basis for saying that no matter who the President nominates, we were not going to consider that individual.”…

Hearings and meetings “are the best way to thoroughly understand a nominee’s views,” Collins said. “Undoubtably, there will be issues that would arise in a hearing that would provide grounds for people who don’t want to vote for Judge Garland or in those who do.”

Obviously this isn’t enough of a break in McConnell’s troop discipline to get movement on hearings – much less a vote – on Judge Garland’s nomination. But the key figure in all this is Senator Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. As Steve Benen reported yesterday, he is going to extraordinary lengths in his blue/swing state of Iowa to avoid public confrontation over his position. First of all, he is not publicly announcing his speaking engagements and/or meetings with constituents. Secondly, he is only visiting staunchly conservative areas of the state where he received 80-90% of the vote in his last election. Finally, even in those areas, he is facing “tough and repeated questions over his refusal to hold hearings on a nominee to the Supreme Court.”

It is anyone’s guess about whether the “no hearings” and “no vote” portion of McConnell’s plan will hold for the next seven months. But it is clear that the Majority Leader is facing some insurrection from the troops he had previously managed to keep in line.

 

By: Nancy Letourneau, Political Animal Blog, The Washington Monthly, March 30, 2016

March 31, 2016 Posted by | Merrick Garland, Mitch Mc Connell, Senate Republicans, U. S. Supreme Court Nominees | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Jim DeMint Looking Over His Shoulder”: Trump Made A Big Promise Aimed At Winning Over Nervous Conservatives

It sort of got lost in competing news about his efforts to seem a mite more normal now that he’s almost certain to head to Cleveland in July as the leader in delegates, if not the putative nominee, but Donald Trump made a very unusual and highly significant promise aimed right at the beating heart of movement conservatism:

Speaking at the construction site for his new hotel in Washington, D.C., Monday, Trump said he will make a list public in the next week of 10 conservative judges that he would consider nominating to the Supreme Court. If elected, Trump said, he would only pick from that list, which is being made in consultation with the conservative Heritage Foundation.

He first made that promise over the weekend in Florida, and he seems to want to make sure it’s widely heard. This means somebody is giving him good advice about how to address the concerns of conservatives about his ideological reliability.

Of all the things they fear about a President Trump, the most urgent is that he will throw away a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reshape SCOTUS and constitutional law. And of all the temptations they have to hold their noses and support the man despite all of his heresies and erratic behavior, the most powerful would be the confident belief that at least he would position the Court to overrule Roe v. Wade, protect Citizens United, overturn Obama’s executive orders, eviscerate regulation of businesses, inoculate religion-based discrimination, and maybe even introduce a new Lochner era of constitutionally enshrined property rights. This would be a legacy that might well outweigh the risks associated with a Trump presidency.

Promising to make his SCOTUS list public right now is smart, because otherwise it’s an empty promise, and involving the Heritage Foundation in developing it is key to its credibility. Not only has Heritage had a long history of vetting Republican appointees; its current president, Jim DeMint, is arguably the most reliable of “constitutional conservatives,” a man who believes conservative policy prescriptions ought to be permanently protected from the occasional liberal majority via a divinely inspired and unchanging Supreme Law.

Bonding with conservatives over SCOTUS makes some psychological sense for Trump as well. Nothing symbolizes the betrayal of the conservative rank and file — whose abiding exemplar is arguably the humble anti-choice activist staffing phone banks and licking envelopes to protect the unborn from “baby-killers” — by those GOP elites in Washington better than the long string of Republican SCOTUS appointees who have turned out to be traitors to the Cause, from Roe v. Wade author Harry Blackmun to the generally liberal John Paul Stevens and David Souter to the current Obamacare-protecting chief justice. If Trump can break that pattern with Jim DeMint looking over his shoulder, maybe he won’t be that bad for conservatism after all.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, New York Magazine, March 22, 2016

March 23, 2016 Posted by | Conservatism, Donald Trump, Jim DeMint, U. S. Supreme Court Nominees | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Best Of Their Options”: Why Republicans Might Actually Put Merrick Garland On The Supreme Court

Today President Obama announced that Merrick Garland is his nominee to fill the seat of the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. This pick is something of a surprise, given Garland’s reputation as a moderate, and most importantly, his age — Garland is 63, meaning he would likely spend only 10 or 15 years on the Court if he is confirmed.

Of course, he may not be confirmed, since Republicans have made clear that they will refuse to hold hearings or votes on any nominee Obama offers, and have said they’ll even refuse to meet the the nominee. Mitch McConnell reiterated that again today. So there’s a clear political strategy behind this nomination on the White House’s part.

But there’s also a way in which Garland could end up actually making it to the Court — not because the White House managed to outmaneuver Republicans, but because they decided that confirming him was the best of their options.

First, let’s look at the White House’s thinking. Of course they’re going to say that this decision was made purely on Garland’s merits, and politics never entered in to it, that Garland was picked because he’s eminently qualified, and he’s well-respected by both Democrats and Republicans. Garland may have all the admirable qualities Obama spoke of today, but it’s also true that he is the hardest pick for Republicans to oppose. He’s probably the most moderate of the names that were mentioned, and when you combine that with his age (and the fact that he’s a white man), Republicans won’t be able to say that Obama is trying to appoint some radical leftist who will pull the Court far to the left for the next 30 or 40 years.

That means that Garland is the one whose appointment most clearly portrays Republicans as obstructionists when they refuse to consider him. That will not only help Hillary Clinton when she argues that Republicans are unreasonable and irresponsible, but it will also put some vulnerable Senate Republicans in uncomfortable positions, particularly Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, all of whom face tough challenges in the fall. So while it may not have a transformative effect on the election, Garland’s nomination could, at least by a bit, increase the chances both that Clinton is elected president and that Democrats will be able to take back the Senate.

The White House is also probably assuming that Republicans will oppose Garland, as they’ve promised. Garland has already had a full career and this is doubtless his last opportunity to ascend to the Supreme Court, so he may have been more willing than other potential nominees to go through this process, with the small chance that he will actually be confirmed.

But might he actually be confirmed? The answer is yes. Here’s how it might happen:

1. Hillary Clinton wins in November. Given that Donald Trump looks like he will be the nominee of the Republican Party, this looks like a strong possibility.

2. Democrats take back the Senate. Democrats need a net gain of four seats in order to get to 50, which was about an even bet before; with Trump leading the Republicans, that looks even more likely.

 3. Democratic Senate leaders consider eliminating the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations. If Clinton were to win, Republicans could decide that they can live with an eight-member Supreme Court for four years, and simply refuse to confirm any Clinton nominee. If they do that, and if Democrats gain a majority, the Democrats would almost certainly get fed up enough to just take the final step and eliminate the filibuster for those nominations (they already eliminated filibusters for lower-court nominations in 2013). Indeed, they’re already considering it.

4. Republicans return after the election and confirm Garland. If Clinton wins and Democrats take the Senate, Republicans will face a choice between Garland and whoever Clinton would nominate — and that person would probably be more liberal, and far younger. So Garland, a moderate who might only spend 10 or 15 years on the Court, would suddenly look like easily the best option. So before the next Senate takes office in January, Republicans would quickly confirm Garland and cut their losses.

Liberals are reacting with a decided lack of enthusiasm over Garland’s nomination, both because of his moderation and his age. For them, the best of all scenarios is that Garland’s nomination flounders, Hillary Clinton gets elected, and appoints a younger and more liberal justice. They might get their wish — if Republicans don’t figure out what’s most in their interests first.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, March 16, 2016

March 20, 2016 Posted by | Merrick Garland, Mitch Mc Connell, Senate Republicans, U. S. Supreme Court Nominees | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

%d bloggers like this: