Tag Archives: Merrick Garland

Hypocrisy rules the day in Kavanaugh fight

Hypocrisy is king in Washington, D.C.

Not the truth. Not nobility. Not high ideals or soaring rhetoric.

It’s hypocrisy that rules. It has cemented its vise-grip on U.S. politics and government. The Brett Kavanaugh battle is over and the judge is now Justice Kavanaugh, the ninth member of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Who is the Hypocrite in Chief? I’ll hand that dubious honor to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

You’ve read on this blog already my distaste for the hypocrisy exhibited by Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal — who once lied about serving in the Vietnam War — and his lecturing of Kavanaugh about whether lying about one thing means he lies about all things.

The Hypocrite in Chief (dis)honor goes to McConnell because of the ramrod job he pulled in shoving Kavanaugh’s nomination through. And then he blames Senate Democrats for “obstructing” the process and for “playing politics” with this nomination.

McConnell wrote the book on obstruction in early 2016 upon the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The justice died in Texas and McConnell immediately declared that President Barack Obama would not fill the vacancy created by Scalia’s death. Obama went ahead with his nominating process, selecting U.S. District Judge Merrick Garland to succeed Scalia.

Garland didn’t get a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He didn’t get the courtesy of meeting with Republican senators privately. McConnell said that the president was not entitled to replace Scalia during an election year. He gambled that a Republican would win the 2016 election and then would be able to nominate someone of his choosing.

McConnell’s cynical gamble paid off. Donald Trump won. He nominated Neil Gorsuch to the high court. The Senate confirmed him.

And all the while McConnell tossed out “obstruction” epithets at Senate Democrats who were rightfully steamed that a Democratic president had been denied the right to fulfill his own constitutional duties in seeking to fill a Supreme Court seat.

Then came the Kavanaugh nomination. McConnell greased it to allow Kavanaugh to be confirmed after a perfunctory secondary FBI investigation that — big surprise! — turned up no corroboration to the allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a young woman in the early 1980s.

The obstructionist named McConnell then had the temerity to hammer at Senate Democrats for their own resistance to Kavanaugh’s nomination.

So … take a bow, Hypocrite in Chief Mitch McConnell.

SCOTUS picks, then and now

Let’s review briefly the course that two U.S. Supreme Court nominations took.

In early 2016, Justice Antonin Scalia died. President Barack Obama not long afterward nominated Judge Merrick Garland to succeed the conservative judicial icon. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t wait for the nomination to come forward. He declared within hours of Scalia’s death that Obama would not replace Justice Scalia under any circumstance.

The SCOTUS seat remained vacant for the rest of that year. Donald Trump got elected president and then nominated Neil Gorsuch. The Senate heard from the nominee, then confirmed him.

It was the delay that enraged so many Americans.

The Republican Senate majority had no problem dragging its feet to await the outcome of the 2016 election.

What a change has occurred.

Justice Anthony Kennedy retired from the Supreme Court. The president then nominated Brett Kavanaugh to succeed him. Judge Kavanaugh went through the confirmation hearing before the Judiciary Committee. Then a woman came forward to allege that the nominee assaulted her sexually when they were in high school. Then we hear from two more women who said essentially the same thing.

The GOP majority was having none of it. The committee heard from one of the women and from Kavanaugh.

Now the Judiciary panel is going to vote today whether to confirm Kavanaugh’s nomination. The majority says it cannot wait. It has to rush this nomination forward. The questions about what happened in the early 1980s? Hey, minds are made up.

Let’s rush forward.

So … one president’s nomination gets stonewalled for a year. Another one’s selection hops on the fast track.

To think that Majority Leader McConnell has the gall to accuse the other side of “playing politics.”

Democrats ‘obstruct’ and ‘resist’? They learned from the best

Donald John Trump suffers acute short-term memory loss.

Take a quick gander at this message, which he sent out via Twitter:

The only things the Democrats do well is “Resist,” which is their campaign slogan, and “Obstruct.” Cryin’ Chuck Schumer has almost 400 great American people that are waiting “forever” to serve our Country! A total disgrace. Mitch M should not let them go home until all approved!

Sigh and double-sigh!

“Mitch M” is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose picture should appear next to the dictionary definition of “obstructionist.” Why is that?

Well, he obstructed President Barack Obama’s choice for the U.S. Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Obama nominated federal judge Merrick Garland, a supremely qualified candidate. McConnell obstructed the nomination even before the president announced it, declaring that in 2016 there would be an election first and that Obama would not be allowed to fill this seat even though he had nearly a year to go before moving aside for the next president.

Obstructionist, Mr. President? “Mitch M” is the king of obstructionists.

Schumer to Trump: Why not select Merrick Garland?

It won’t happen in this universe, but it’s worth calling attention to this strange idea.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — the Senate’s top Democrat — has urged Donald Trump to select Merrick Garland to succeed Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Hell would freeze over, Earth would spin off its axis and the sun would rise in the west for that to happen.

However …

Schumer is making the request in the name of national unity. Garland, a centrist appeals court judge, was nominated by President Barack Obama in 2016. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — within hours of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia — declared any high court nominee Obama would put forward would go nowhere. McConnell announced his intention to obstruct the nomination and confirmation process.

Garland got nominated. His nomination languished. Trump got elected president. The new president nominated Neil Gorsuch, who then was confirmed.

We’re still divided, significantly because of the theft of the Supreme Court seat by McConnell.

Unification could occur if Trump were to follow Schumer’s advice. I mean, Trump has promised unity. Hasn’t he?

It won’t happen. The idea of nominating Merrick Garland does cause a tingle or two among many of us out here. I’m one of them.

Rethinking the notion of ‘presidential prerogative’

I long have believed in the concept of presidential prerogative, meaning that presidents have the right to appoint people to high office assuming those people are qualified to do the job to which they have been appointed.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, has disabused me just a little bit from that long held belief.

McConnell ignored presidential prerogative in 2016 when he blocked President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. There was a year left in Obama’s tenure as president; Antonin Scalia had died and Obama selected a true-blue moderate to the highest court in America.

McConnell blocked it. He said the Senate shouldn’t consider a Supreme Court nomination during an election year.

His obstructionism infuriated many Americans. Me included. I believed the president had the right to select whoever he wanted, given that he had been re-elected in 2012. I also have said the very same thing about presidents regardless of party over many years. You can look it up. Honest. I have.

Now, though, we have another president getting ready to select someone to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is retiring at the end of July. I normally would give Donald Trump the green light on this one. Except that McConnell laid down a rule that he forced the Senate to obey in 2016.

Two years later, doesn’t that rule still apply? Hey, what’s good enough then should be good enough now.

Do the people deserve to be heard this time?

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had this to say in February 2016 as it regarded President Barack Obama’s desire to nominate someone to replace the U.S. Supreme Court Justice  Antonin Scalia: The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice.

Hmm. What do you think of that?

Here we are, in June 2018. The Supreme Court has just been opened up yet again. Justice Anthony Kennedy has announced his retirement. Sen. McConnell said he intends to push for a Senate vote by this fall.

Hey! Wait a minute!

We have an election coming up. One-third of the Senate, which must confirm the next appointee, is on the ballot. It could swing from narrow Republican control to Democratic control after the November midterm election.

Don’t the “American people” have the right to be heard in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice? Don’t they, Mr. Leader?

That was his bogus rationale in blocking Merrick Garland’s nomination from President Obama in 2016. The president had a year left in his tenure. We had a presidential election coming up later that year. McConnell said “no way” on the nomination. He blocked it. He obstructed the president. He then — in a shameful display of a lack of self-awareness — accused Democrats of “playing politics” when they insisted that the Senate hold confirmation hearings and then vote on Garland’s nomination.

If anyone “played politics” with that nomination, it was Mitch McConnell!

Now, the leader wants to fast-track the latest Supreme Court nomination on the eve of an equally important election that could determine the ideological and partisan balance in the body that must confirm this nomination.

Does this election count as much as the 2016 presidential election? Aren’t U.S. senators members of a “co-equal branch of government”? Or is the majority leader going to play politics yet again by ramrodding this nomination through — before the people have the chance to have their voices heard?

Obstructionism pays off for Sen. McConnell

Who says obstructionism doesn’t pay dividends … bigly?

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in Texas in 2016. Within hours of his death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that President Obama would not be allowed to fill the seat left vacant by the conservative icon’s death.

Obama nominated U.S. District Judge Merrick Garland to the court. McConnell didn’t even allow Garland a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. The nomination didn’t go anywhere.

Donald John Trump defeated Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2016 election. Trump then selected Neil Gorsuch for the high court. The Senate confirmed him.

Today, the court upheld Trump’s travel ban. The vote was 5 to 4. Gorsuch voted with the majority.

Obstructionism doesn’t pay? Oh, you bet it does.

Yep, elections do have serious consequences

Oh, brother. Is there any more proof needed about the impact of presidential elections than the decision today handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court?

The high court ruled 5-4 today to uphold Donald J. Trump’s travel ban involving countries from a handful of mostly Muslim countries.

The conservative majority voted with the president; the liberal minority voted against him.

There you have it. Trump’s travel ban will stand. He will crow about it. He’ll proclaim that the court is a body comprising men of wisdom; bear in mind that the three women who sit on the court today voted against the travel ban. Had the decision gone the other way, he would declare the court to be “too political,” he would chastise the justices’ knowledge of the U.S. Constitution (if you can believe it).

The court decision today has reaffirmed the president’s decision to discriminate against people based on their religious faith. Nice.

The partisan vote on the court today also has brought a smile to another leading politician: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose obstructionism in the final year of the Barack Obama presidency denied Trump’s predecessor the right to fill a seat created by the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The Constitution gives the president the right to nominate judges; it also grants the Senate the right to “advise and consent” on those nominations. The Senate majority leader decided to obstruct the president’s ability to do his job.

President Obama nominated a solid moderate, Merrick Garland, to succeed Scalia. McConnell put the kibosh on it, declaring almost immediately after Scalia’s death that the president would not be able to fill the seat. McConnell would block it. And he did.

A new president was elected and it turned out to be Donald Trump, who then nominated Neil Gorsuch, who was approved narrowly by the Senate. Gorsuch proved to be the deciding vote in today’s ruling that upholds the Trump travel ban.

Do elections have consequences? You bet they do.

Frightening, yes? In my humble view — given the stakes involved at the Supreme Court — most assuredly.

Merrick Garland at FBI? Holy cow, man!

What in the name of political contrition might be happening in Washington, D.C.?

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch “The Obstructionist” McConnell has just endorsed someone for FBI director that he fought tooth and nail to keep off the U.S. Supreme Court.

That would be U.S. District Judge Merrick Garland, whom then-President Barack Obama nominated for the high court in 2016, only to be rebuffed when McConnell refused to let Garland have so much as a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The FBI has a vacancy at the top, thanks to Donald John Trump’s firing of Director James Comey. Now we hear that Garland might be considered for the job. And with McConnell’s blessing to boot!

Is McConnell trying to make nice with someone he stiffed?

According to The Hill: “I think if he picks someone with a deep background in law enforcement, who has no history of political involvement, a genuine expert — and the reason I mention Garland is he’s an example of that — it will serve him well, serve the country well and lead to a more bipartisan approach,” McConnell said.

Sounds like a good choice for the Supreme Court, too, don’t you think?

Whatever. The notion that Merrick Garland would be considered for the FBI director’s job is nearly as shocking as Comey’s firing by Trump. Still, as McConnell noted, Garland does have prosecutorial experience, given that he led the federal government’s case against the late Timothy McVeigh, the monster who blew up the Murrah Federal Courthouse in Oklahoma City in April 1995.

Do I think Garland would be a good pick to lead the FBI? I understand that he happens to be a straight arrow, a Boy Scout, a guy with an impeccable judicial reputation. It seems to me those traits would serve him well as head of the nation’s top federal law enforcement agency.

I am just wondering, though: Does he want the job?

If he does, and the president nominates him, then I believe hell will have frozen over and that the sun will rise the next day above the western horizon.

Senate sees the end of collegiality

There once was a time when the U.S. Senate could be a place where senators disagreed but remained friends.

I believe those days are over. They perhaps have been gone for a lot longer than I realize. The confirmation battle over Judge Neil Gorsuch closes the deal.

Say goodbye to Senate collegiality.

Battle changes the dynamic

Gorsuch’s confirmation came on a fairly narrow vote. All Republicans voted to seat him on the U.S. Supreme Court; all but three Democrats voted against his confirmation.

Some of us — including yours truly — used to believe the federal judiciary somehow was insulated from partisan politics. Not true. Maybe it’s never been true.

Senate Republicans tossed the filibuster rule into the crapper to get Gorsuch confirmed. The Senate used to require 60 votes to quell a filibuster. Democrats launched a filibuster to block Gorsuch’s confirmation; Republicans answered by invoking the so-called “nuclear option” and changing the rule to allow only a simple majority to end a filibuster.

Democrats are angry that Donald J. Trump got elected president in the first place. Their anger metastasized with Trump’s appointment of Gorsuch after Republicans blocked Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to succeed the late Antonin Scalia.

I’m not at all confident that either side is going to find a way toward some common ground — on anything!

I recall a story that former Republican U.S. Rep. Larry Combest once told me about his former boss, the late U.S. Sen. John Tower; Combest served on Tower’s staff.

Tower, a Texas Republican, was a fierce partisan. One day, as Combest recalled it, he and another equally ferocious partisan debater, the late Democrat Hubert Humphrey, were arguing on the Senate floor about some legislation. They were gesturing and shouting and saying some angry things while arguing their points, Combest remembered.

After a lengthy floor debate, the presiding officer gaveled the session closed, Combest said, and Sens. Tower and Humphrey walked toward the middle of the floor, shook hands — and walked out the door with their arms around each other.

My gut tells me those moments are long gone.