The passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has brought this shameless hypocrisy to the forefront. For instance, this from The New York Times:
Thirty years later, and within hours of the news that Justice Scalia had died, Senate Republicans, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, rejected that practice outright. It would not matter if President Obama nominated the ghost of Ronald Reagan himself, they appeared to suggest — there will be no confirmation hearings until Mr. Obama has packed his bags and moved out of the White House. Mr. Obama promptly replied that he planned to send a nomination to Congress shortly.
This they reason is unfair:
When Antonin Scalia was named by President Ronald Reagan to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court in 1986, the Senate considered the nomination for 85 days, then voted to confirm him. The tally was 98 to 0.
That unanimity was by no means a measure of widespread agreement with Justice Scalia’s judicial philosophy. Rather it was the Senate’s customary acknowledgment — at least until recently — that the president had fulfilled his constitutional duty and selected a clearly qualified person for the post.
Senators are free to vote yes or no on any nominee. But not to vote at all is an enormous insult and grave disservice to millions of Americans awaiting justice.
Of course, this is patent nonsense. The duty of the Senate is “advise and consent.” The “advise” role has been carried out by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s message that this nomination belongs to the next president. Just because the ever obdurate Obama presses forward with an ill-advised nominee is no reason for the Senate to abrogate its Constitutional prerogative.
Oddly enough, the reason the New York Times wants Obama to have this appointment is to support his lawless political agenda and executive overreach:
A tie vote upholds the court ruling below and sets no precedent; it is as though the justices never heard the case in the first place. But this would do more than prolong uncertainty; it could, in some cases, perpetuate harm for great numbers of people — women who have been grievously hurt by proliferating abortion restrictions at the state level, which have been challenged in the court; law-abiding immigrants Mr. Obama has tried to protect from deportation by reforming enforcement policies.
Anyone who would vote in favor of either of these propositions is unqualified to hold a seat on any court in the nation. And not that here argument here is not merely for a hearing or a vote, they are demanding that a justice be confirmed regardless of judicial philosophy or qualification beyond Obama’s nomination simply to get cases decided.
Be that as it may, how The New York Times views this question has certainly changed. Let’s take a quick trip back to 1987 and the nomination of Robert Bork for a seat on the Supreme Court:
The President’s supporters insist vehemently that, having won the 1984 election, he has every right to try to change the Court’s direction. Yes, but the Democrats won the 1986 election, regaining control of the Senate, and they have every right to resist. This is not the same Senate that confirmed William Rehnquist as Chief Justice and Antonin Scalia as an associate justice last year.
In this week’s editorial, the editorial board of the New York Times forgot to mention that when Justice Scalia was nominated, Ronald Reagan was not a lame duck president and the GOP had a eight-vote majority in the United States Senate. So the comparison is not apples-to-apples more like apples-to-kimchee.
I am under no illusion that pointing out hypocrisy on the left makes very much difference. Hypocrisy is an integral part of progressive thought because “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” People who live in gated communities with private security services are the first to lecture everyone else about the virtues of welcoming illegal immigrants and the rightness of giving up firearms. No one expects consistency from softcore bolsheviki like those writing editorials for The New York Times. But when we read what they right we need to keep in mind that their timeless principles are limited to whatever prevarication they can invent to get what they want today.