U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell laid it out there.
Talking to conservative radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt, McConnell said the Senate “likely” won’t approve any more high-level circuit court or Supreme Court judges during the Obama administration.
So … if I understand it correctly, if a Supreme Court vacancy occurs, say, in the next 24 hours — and it can happen, given the ages of some of the court’s senior justices — the Senate won’t confirm anyone appointed by President Obama, even though Obama has another 18 months to go before he leaves office.
That’s what the Kentucky Republican senator said, right?
I surely understand the politics of these appointments. The highest court in America comprises a slim conservative majority. Should one of the court’s conservative justices suddenly no longer be on the court, that would send the Republican majority in the Senate into sheer apoplexy. GOP senators would go ballistic at the knowledge that the “socialist/Marxist/terrorist-appeaser” president would be empowered to appoint a justice who would swing the balance of power on the court.
And oh yes, the reverse would be true if we had a conservative president appointing a justice who then might have to face confirmation by a Democratic-majority Senate.
But that’s what we have.
McConnell seemed to offer himself some cover in his radio interview by noting the “bipartisan” votes the Senate has had and the bills it has approved with bipartisan majorities. So, it’s OK then to stall these appointments because, as McConnell said, the Senate is up and running like a well-oiled machine.
What a crock!
It’s fair to remind everyone — the Senate majority leader included — that Barack Obama has been elected twice by clear majorities of American voters. Part of the president’s authority rests with his ability to appoint federal judges with whom he feels comfortable. It’s in the Constitution. He can do that!
Yes, the Constitution also gives the Senate the power to “advise and consent” to the appointments. But is it truly within the Senate’s purview to obstruct qualified jurists to these posts purely on political grounds, because senators can’t stomach the notion of the high court comprising judges with whom they are uncomfortable?
Before you accuse me of being a partisan hack, I’ve noted this very thing when we’ve had GOP presidents’ high court appointments stymied by Democrats employing the same logic in seeking to block qualified judicial appointees.
I happen to be a strong believer in “presidential prerogative,” and that belief swings in both directions.
Welcome back, gridlock.