As is so often the case, the Senate GOP caucus is about to betray the people who elected them and the nation.
One would think it would be easy enough to just refuse to consider a Supreme Court nomination by Barack Obama. The President doesn’t have a presumption of a “right” to a nominee. The Senate’s power is to “advise and consent.” The “advise” part is pretty easy, just stand fast to what Mitch McConnell said over the weekend, that this nomination belongs to the next president. As a matter of fact, there is no Constitutionally mandated number of Supreme Court justices. The Senate could, with complete justification, decide that eight is enough.
The first sign of weakness was Charles Freakin Grassley. On Sunday, Grassley announced that there would be no approval of any nomination by Obama.
“The fact of the matter is that it’s been standard practice over the last 80 years to not confirm Supreme Court nominees during a presidential election year,” Grassley said.
“Given the huge divide in the country, and the fact that this president, above all others, has made no bones about his goal to use the courts to circumvent Congress and push through his own agenda, it only makes sense that we defer to the American people who will elect a new president to select the next Supreme Court Justice.”
Now Grassley has backtracked:
Even before Mr. Obama stated his case, there were signs that Republican unity was wavering on the notion of blocking any nominee out of hand.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, didn’t rule out confirmation hearings and a vote by his panel on an Obama selection.
“I would wait until the nominee is made before I would make any decision,” Mr. Grassley said Tuesday in a conference call with Iowa radio reporters. “In other words, take it a step at a time.”
Asked whether he thought the controversy over filling the court vacancy might endanger his re-election chances this fall, Mr. Grassley said, “I think I have a responsibility to perform, and I can’t worry about the election. I’ve got to do my job as a senator, whatever it is. And there will be a lot of tough votes between now and the next election.”
And some GOP senators are hearing the siren song of “bipartisanship” and running like scalded dogs from the idea that they would ever do anything to oppose Obama. Mind you, Obama’s approval rating is underwater and he’s a lame duck.
Sen. Thom Tillis, North Carolina Republican, voiced caution about blocking any Obama nominee automatically.
“I think we fall into the trap if [we] just simply say, sight unseen, we fall into the trap of being obstructionists,” Mr. Tillis said on Tyler Cralle’s radio show.
But Mr. Tillis added of the president, “If he puts forth someone that we think is in the mold of President Obama’s vision for America, then we’ll use every device available to block that nomination.”
Right now, I’d bet we are well and truly screwed on this. Obama is going to send a nomination forward and the GOP is going to confirm that person.