Tag Archives: judicial appointments

Sen. McConnell is a jokester supreme

Mitch McConnell just slays me. He knocks me out. He throws out jokes when he’s trying to be serious.

Such as when he writes an essay on Politico.com and urges Democrats to stop obstructing Donald Trump’s myriad appointments.

Yep, the Senate’s chief obstructionist masquerading as its majority leader, is scolding Democrats for playing politics.

You can read Sen. McConnell’s essay¬†here.

I want to have my say for just a moment.

Majority Leader McConnell has set a new standard for obstruction. He rolled it out in early 2016 when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly. The president at the time, Barack Obama, was empowered — by the U.S. Constitution — to nominate someone to replace Justice Scalia.

President Obama sought to do so. He nominated federal judge Merrick Garland — a superb jurist, a centrist — to join the SCOTUS.

McConnell’s response? He would not allow Garland to have so much as a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. He wouldn’t meet with the nominee. He instructed his GOP colleagues to stiff Garland.

In fact, McConnell made clear his intention within hours of Justice Scalia’s death. He said a “lame duck” president shouldn’t be allowed to fulfill his duty. We were going to have an election that year, McConnell said, and we should let the next president fill that vacancy.

It was a tremendous gamble on McConnell’s part. He was hoping for a Republican to be elected president. It turned out to be Donald Trump, who then won the election that November.

So, for McConnell today to excoriate Democrats for “playing politics” with these appointments — in the words of a former boss of mine — is like the Happy Hooker, Xaviera Hollander, lecturing someone on the virtues of chastity.

Sen. McConnell then . . . and now


A colleague and acquaintance of mine has shared an item on social media that I’d like to share here.

It comes from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who in 2005 made a fascinating point about defending the right of presidents to make appointments to the federal judiciary.

It states:

“The Constitution of the United States is at stake. Article II, Section 2 clearly provides that the President, and the President alone, nominates judges. The Senate is empowered to give advice and consent. But my Democratic colleagues want to change the rules. They want to reinterpret the Constitution to require a supermajority for confirmation. In effect, they would take away the power to nominate from the President and grant it to a minority of 41 Senators.”
“[T]he Republican conference intends to restore the principle that, regardless of party, any President’s judicial nominees, after full debate, deserve a simple up-or-down vote. I know that some of our colleagues wish that restoration of this principle were not required. But it is a measured step that my friends on the other side of the aisle have unfortunately made necessary. For the first time in 214 years, they have changed the Senate’s ‘advise and consent’ responsibilities to ‘advise and obstruct.'”

Interesting, yes?

Well, 11 years later, the majority leader himself is proposing to “advise and obstruct” by seeking to delay a presidential appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court until after the November general election that, McConnell hopes, will produce a Republican president.

Well, Mr. Majority Leader, has Article II Section 2 of the Constitution changed?


McConnell may not block judge picks after all

I’m not going to be so terribly presumptuous to assume that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell read High Plains Blogger recently and may be reacting to its — I mean my — assertion that gridlock regarding judicial appointments is bad for the nation.

Still, I am heartened to hear that despite what McConnell told a radio talk show host, he really and truly doesn’t have plans to block all future circuit court and Supreme Court appointments during the remainder of President Obama’s administration.


The president has a number of circuit judge appointments pending in the Senate, which must approve them before the judges take their lifetime seats. A McConnell spokesman said the majority leader really didn’t say all those appointments were toast. They’d get a hearing and a vote, he said.

I’ve noted already that presidents deserve to select judicial appointees to their liking. That’s a consequence of national elections and Barack Obama has won two of them, in a row.

There’s still no word yet on what the Senate would do about a Supreme Court vacancy should one occur. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is said to be in poor health, but she says she isn’t retiring. She’s one of the liberals on the court. Her departure and a replacement wouldn’t shift the balance of power, at least theoretically.

If a conservative justice were to leave the court, well, that’s another matter.

In the meantime, the threat of locking down all future Obama appointments appears now to be lessening.

I’m left to wonder: Did the majority leader actually see my blog?

Nah. Couldn’t be … but it’s fun to wonder.


Senate needs ‘anti-bullying ordinance’?

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is continuing to make the high-minded case that Senate Democrats have become “bullies” and that their changing the filibuster rules to take the teeth out of Senate Republicans’ ability to have their voices heard.


If that’s the case, then perhaps Sen. Paul can declare as well that if Republicans take over the Senate next year that they’ll give back to the newly minted Democratic minority the same weapons the GOP has been denied.

Democrats this week changed the rules to make it easier to end filibusters that have blocked several judicial and other appointments made by President Obama. The rule used to require a 60-vote majority to end a filibuster; now it only takes a simple majority of 51 votes. The new rule, by the way, will still require a 60-vote majority to end filibusters of Supreme Court appointments.

Why deploy the so-called Senate “nuclear option”? Democratic Leader Harry Reid said he’d grown tired of Republicans’ efforts to stymie the president’s ability to fill key executive and judicial spots.

Republicans have complained that Democrats simply have changed the rules to suit their own political agenda. They have cited the Founding Fathers’ intent to create a “cooling environment” in the Senate that would temper a more “populist” House of Representatives. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., says the Senate now looks just like the House, that it will be driven more by partisan anger than by reasonable discourse.


If that is as Republicans say it is, and if the GOP wins control of the Senate next year, then surely they’ll restore civility, collegiality and fairness to the body, yes? They’ll no doubt want to level the playing field for Democrats to show that they, Senate Republicans, are more fair-minded than their “friends” on the other side of the aisle.

That’ll happen, right?

Do not bet a nickel on it. Revenge will be the order of the day.