Tag Archives: Merrick Garland

McConnell exhibits stunning lack of self-awareness

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Of all the statements, assertions, pronouncements and declarations I keep hearing while we watch this impeachment drama unfold, I keep circling back to what keeps coming out of the mouth of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The Kentucky Republican keeps hurling “partisan political” accusations at his Democratic colleagues in the Senate and in the House of Representatives. When I hear him accuse House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of acting as a purely partisan politician, I find myself thinking: Dude, do you not remember your own political history? 

Of course he does!

I harken back to the Mother of All Partisan Acts when in early 2016 he declared that President Obama would not be able to select someone to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Antonin Scalia died suddenly that year; Obama sought to nominate Merrick Garland to succeed him; McConnell put the brakes on it, declaring that the president’s nominee would not get a Senate hearing in an election year.

Democrats were rightfully outraged. It was an act of supreme partisanship, just as he has continued to exhibit his partisan bona fides during the run-up to the Senate impeachment trial that has commenced.

Speaking of that … for the Senate majority leader to accuse anyone else of partisan game-playing is akin to getting a lecture on marital fidelity from, oh, you know who.

Principled stands occasionally rub us the wrong way

If one is going to argue a point on principle, then fairness dictates that the principle must stand no matter whose policy is the subject of the discussion of the moment.

With that, I have to declare that my vigorous opposition to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to play politics with President Obama’s authority to appoint a Supreme Court justice compels me to make a declaration that is going to anger some readers of this blog.

It is that Donald Trump deserves to be treated fairly if the time comes for him to make a SCOTUS nomination during the heat of a presidential campaign.

I heard the news about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s hospitalization over a fever and thought what many of you thought as well: What if she can no longer serve on the nation’s highest court? I hate harboring macabre thoughts, but realism requires us to recognize that the justice is 86 years of age and has been battling cancer.

OK, that said, she also is a noted progressive jurist appointed to the high court in 1993 by President Clinton. She is the second-most senior tenured justice on the court, behind archconservative Justice Clarence Thomas, appointed in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush.

The politics gets stickier than pine bar on a baseball bat.

Conservative icon Antonin Scalia died suddenly in early 2016. President Obama wanted to nominate Merrick Garland to succeed him. Garland is known as a judicial moderate who tilts a bit to the left. McConnell intervened. He said under no circumstances should Obama, a lame duck, should be allowed to fill that vacancy. He blocked Obama’s choice in the Senate, which has confirmation power.

Many of us went ballistic. I was one of millions of Americans who were enraged at McConnell’s power play. How dare he interfere with the president’s constitutionally granted authority? He wanted to wait for the 2016 election to play out before handing the matter over to the next president. It was a raw partisan act and it was wrong.

I argued the point on the principle of presidential authority taking precedence.

So, here we are today.

Another president is in office. Donald Trump has selected two high court justices already. If he gets a chance to select a third one in the event that Justice Ginsburg retires or … well, you know … then he gets to nominate a justice to succeed this progressive icon.

We all know what the reaction will be. It will mirror the reaction that erupted in progressive circles when Scalia died and Garland got the nomination. Only this time conservatives will argue that the president deserves to have his nominee seated; progressives will seek to block it, perhaps in the manner that McConnell did.

It would be as wrong to block Trump as it was to block Obama.

The more reasonable — and principled — option would be for Democrats to regain control of the Senate after the 2020 election. Then the Senate could exercise its appointment power when a conservative justice’s spot on the court is vacated. Voters also can kick Trump out of office, presuming he survives the pending impeachment and Senate trial, and elect someone who will forgo the ultra-right-wing agenda favored by the incumbent.

Given my own often-stated bias, I take no pleasure in making this declaration. I feel I must … in the name of principle.

In the meantime, I intend to pray real hard for Justice Ginsburg’s good health.

Mitch McConnell: Partisan hack demonstrates his hypocrisy

There well might be no more demonstrably partisan political hack in the U.S. Senate than the man who runs the place … and who has the gall to accuse politicians on the other side of playing politics.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has blocked a bill that would seek to make our electoral system more secure and to prevent foreign hostile powers from hacking into our system.

Why did he do that? Because he says Senate Democrats have made it too “partisan.” They are “playing politics” with the legislation.

Wow, man!

Hmm. Let’s see how this works. Requiring paper ballots to back up the electronic ballots is “partisan”? Mandating that political candidates report to the FBI any suspected foreign-power interference is “partisan”?

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has stood with the Russians who did attack our election in 2016 and are likely to do so again in 2020. Trump’s partner in the Senate now is standing with him, declaring that Democrats are the partisan hacks.

Let’s flash back for a moment to 2016.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died while vacationing in Texas. The conservative icon’s body barely had gotten cold before McConnell declared that President Obama — serving his final full year in office — would not be allowed to seat a justice to replace the conservative icon, Scalia.

Obama ended up nominating Merrick Garland, an eminently qualified jurist. Garland didn’t get a hearing. McConnell was at his obstructionist worst in blocking Garland’s nomination and in denying President Obama the opportunity to fulfill his constitutional responsibility.

So now the majority leader calls Democrats the partisans? He says Democrats are playing politics with an electoral security bill?

The man’s hypocrisy takes my breath away.

Sen. McConnell: partisan hack supreme

There could be little, if any doubt, about Mitch McConnell’s partisan credentials.

The U.S. Senate majority leader, though, has just removed any possible benefit of the doubt. The man plays pure, raw, partisan politics better (or worse) than anyone else in Washington, D.C.

Consider his answer to this question recently: If a seat on the Supreme Court came open in 2020, the final full year of Donald Trump’s term as president, would he seek to confirm the nominee?

McConnell’s answer: “Oh, I’d fill it.”

Just four years ago, he had the chance to “fill” a seat on the high court upon the sudden and unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia. His response in 2016, the final full year of President Obama’s tenure in the White House, was markedly different from what he said to the crowd in Paducah, Ky.

McConnell said immediately upon Scalia’s death that Obama would not fill the vacancy. McConnell would block any attempt for a Democratic president to replace a conservative justice appointed by a Republican president; in this case, it was President Reagan who nominated Scalia.

Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the SCOTUS. The Senate didn’t give him a hearing. Key Republican senators never even met the fellow. His nomination withered and died. We elected a new president in November 2016 — and it happened to be Donald Trump!

Oh, but now we have a GOP president in office. If a vacancy were to develop on the court, McConnell — also a Republican — would move to fill the vacancy.

Just think that this partisan hack has the gall, the stones, the chutzpah to suggest Democrats are “playing politics.”

This guy, McConnell, plays the political game with the best of ’em.

Sen. McConnell’s thinly disguised contempt for fairness — to my way of thinking — is what gives politics and politicians a bad name.

Merrick Garland to preside over Trump appeal? Oh, the irony

The irony here is just too obvious and too rich to ignore.

Donald Trump’s legal team is going to appeal a federal judge’s ruling that the president must obey congressional demands to turn over his financial records.

And just who is going to preside over the federal appeals court that will consider this case? None other than Judge Merrick Garland, the man who by all rights should be sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court instead of serving as chief of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

This is quite fascinating.

President Barack Obama nominated Garland to the high court after the sudden and shocking death of Justice Antonin Scalia in early 2016. Justice Scalia had been dead mere hours when U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declared that President Obama would not get to fill the SCOTUS seat. Obama was in the final full year of his presidency and McConnell insisted that the next president be allowed to perform that constitutional duty.

In truth, Merrick Garland was a superb choice. He should have been given a hearing. He should have been confirmed by the Senate. He wasn’t because of McConnell’s partisan grandstanding.

Now the judge gets to preside over an appellate case filed by Donald Trump.

My hunch is this: Judge Garland is going to demonstrate for the entire world his impartiality, his legal judgment, his expertise and knowledge of the U.S. Constitution . . . and will show us precisely why he should be sitting on the United States Supreme Court.

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.

Senate majority leader obstructs yet again

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who famously obstructed President Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court from getting a hearing, is at it again.

He now has obstructed a resolution calling for the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings into “collusion” with the Russians to the public. He doesn’t want us — you and me — to see how Mueller concluded that Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign didn’t collude with Russian election attackers.

McConnell earned his obstructionist stripes when in 2016 he blocked Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court after the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia. He played hardball politics. Yes, that gamble paid off with Trump’s election as president later that year. Trump then nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill Scalia’s seat and, by golly, Justice Gorsuch got confirmed by the Senate.

What is going on here? Might it be that there’s something in the findings that McConnell doesn’t want us to see? Is the public going to draw a different conclusion than the one Mueller reportedly reached?

The House of Representatives voted 420-0 to release the findings. The president has said he has no objection to the public getting a full look at what Mueller concluded and how he reached his conclusion. Attorney General William Barr said he intends to release the results in a matter of “weeks, not months.”

But the Senate GOP boss says no can do?

Knock it off, Mitch. Get with the program. The public wants to see the results. It is demanding it of you and your Republican cohorts. You may stop obstructing at any moment.

No need to mess with SCOTUS numbers

I’ll be clear right up front.

Leave the U.S. Supreme Court numerical composition alone!

Some of the Democratic candidates for president of the United States are declaring their discomfort with the fact that the SCOTUS comprises nine justices. They express openness to increasing the number of justices sitting on the nation’s highest court.

Why? Because they dislike the assault on the court mounted by Senate Republicans, notably the refusal by the GOP majority in the Senate to give a Barack Obama nominee a hearing after the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.

Let’s hold on a minute. Catch our breath. Take a moment or two to think about this.

The SCOTUS has operated for better or worse with nine justices since the founding of the Republic in 1789. The Constitution empowers the president to nominate individuals to serve on the court; it also empowers the Senate to confirm those nominees.

The court as well as the presidency are subject to the ebb and flow of the political tides. Am I happy with the way the Senate stiffed President Obama in 2016 when he nominated Merrick Garland to succeed Justice Scalia? No. I am not! The Senate GOP leadership exercised its political power brazenly and recklessly by denying the president a chance to nominate a highly qualified jurist to sit on the Supreme Court.

But . . . that’s what the Constitution allows!

We all understand that “elections have consequences.” We’re going to conduct a presidential election in 2020. Voters have the chance in November of next year to fundamentally shift the balance of power at the very top of the political chain of command.

I am going to argue that’s the way you bring change to the Supreme Court, not by monkeying around with the number of justices who sit on that bench.

The court and the presidency have survived for as long as there has been a United States of America. So, too, has the nation.

Call me a judicial stick-in-the-mud if you wish. There is no need to overreact.

McConnell now seeks ‘bipartanship’?

Mitch McConnell’s lack of self-awareness takes my breath away.

The U.S. Senate majority leader has penned an op-ed in the Washington Post that demands that congressional Democrats “work with us” instead of putting “partisan politics ahead of country.”

Interesting, yes? You bet it is!

Let’s review part of the record for just a brief moment.

  • McConnell once declared his intention to make Barack H. Obama a “one-term president.” In fact, he said it would be his No. 1 priority while leading the Senate Republican caucus.
  • He has remained shamefully silent about Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.
  • This is my favorite: McConnell said that he would not allow President Obama to nominate anyone to replace the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He made that proclamation mere hours after Justice Scalia died in Texas. Obama nominated Merrick Garland to succeed Scalia, but McConnell would not allow even a hearing to examine Garland’s exemplary judicial credentials. Obama was in the final full year of the presidency and McConnell gambled — successfully, it turned out — on the hope that a Republican would win the 2016 presidential election.

This Senate Republican leader now accuses Democrats of “playing politics” over The Wall and causing the partial shutdown of the federal government.

Astonishing. I need to catch my breath.

McConnell wants what? Bipartisanship? For real?

I gave myself one of those proverbial forehead slaps when I heard this tidbit: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants there to be more “bipartisanship” in the next Congress.

Huh? He said what? This comes in the form of an op-ed column from the obstructionist in chief on Capitol Hill?

It took my breath away.

This is the fellow who said in 2010: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Uh, huh. He said that. The 2012 presidential election, of course, dashed Leader McConnell’s dream. President Obama won re-election.

Then came the congressional Republican caucuses singular effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They staged countless votes in the Senate and the House. They came up short. Who led the charge? Mitch did, that’s who.

And then we had the obstruction to end all obstructions in early 2016. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon on the court, died suddenly in Texas. Justice Scalia’s body had barely gotten cold when McConnell declared that President Obama would not get the chance to replace him.

Oh sure, the president can nominate someone, McConnell said, but Republicans were not going to move the nomination forward. Obama nominated federal Judge Merrick Garland — a supremely qualified man — only to watch his nomination wither and die. We had a presidential election to conclude and McConnell banked on the hope that a Republican would be elected. His gamble paid off with Donald Trump’s election.

Now the majority leader wants a more bipartisan atmosphere on Capitol Hill.

Pardon me while I bust out laughing.

The next Congress will be split. Democrats will control the House; Republicans will lead the Senate. Bipartisanship certainly is the preferred way to govern.

That such a call would come from the U.S. Senate’s leading obstructionist gives “gall” a bad name.