Principled? Or unprincipled Trump-haters?
Why would a Republican senator deny a Republican president their support for the most critical nomination to the Supreme Court in decades?
Four Republican senators have recently already gone on record saying they can’t support a nomination for the Supreme Court this close to an election. Several of them cite the Eric Garland precedent.
- Maine Sen. Susan Collins told the New York Times, “I think that’s too close, I really do.”
- Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski in September said, “Fair is fair,” and she would not vote to replace RBG before the election.”
- South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham in October 2018 said, “If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait to the next election. And I’ve got a pretty good chance of being the Judiciary [Chairman]. Hold the tape.”
- Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said in July he would follow the Biden rule, “I’m just following what was established by the Biden Rule in 1986 and then emphasized by him in 1992… They set the pattern. I didn’t set the pattern. But it was very legitimate that you can’t have one rule for Democratic presidents and another rule for Republican presidents.”
But several other senators went on the record in 2016 when President Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy caused by Anton Scalia’s death, Merrick Garland, was being considered 9 months before the election. No fewer than 17 current GOP senators said that a nominee should not be considered so close before a presidential election.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas): “It has been 80 years since a Supreme Court vacancy was nominated and confirmed in an election year. There is a long tradition that you don’t do this in an election year.” (source)
Maybe they hope everyone will have forgotten what they said.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): “I don’t think we should be moving on a nominee in the last year of this president’s term — I would say that if it was a Republican president .” (source)
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.): “It makes the current presidential election all that more important as not only are the next four years in play, but an entire generation of Americans will be impacted by the balance of the court and its rulings. Sens. Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and Harry Reid have all made statements that the Senate does not have to confirm presidential nominations in an election year. I will oppose this nomination as I firmly believe we must let the people decide the Supreme Court’s future.” (source)
Georgia Senator David Perdue thinks that “balance” on the court is important.
Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.): “The very balance of our nation’s highest court is in serious jeopardy. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will do everything in my power to encourage the president and Senate leadership not to start this process until we hear from the American people.” (source)
Each one of those senators have visions of their political opponent in the next election running ads with those words thrown back at them if they vote on Trump’s SCOTUS choice.
But this is 2020. Hypocrisy from politicians is a given. Double standards are accepted. In an all-out partisan war, no tactic is too underhanded, no statement has a shelf life longer than the news cycle. Republican senators who all argued against Merrick Garland won’t bat an eyelash in voting for Trump’s nominee for exactly the reason that they opposed the pick in 2016.
Democrats who try to shame Republican senators for their statements from 2016 are barking up the wrong tree. The bottom line is, no one cares.