The New York Times editorial board is not happy that Neil Gorsuch is a Supreme Court justice. Recent SCOTUS rulings have included the latest associate justice to join the court. For whatever reason, instead of doing an in-depth look at how he ruled in these decisions, the Times decided instead to devote much of the time blubbering about Merrick Garland.
Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has had a rough couple of weeks. Yet, however many setbacks he might suffer over health care reform or other parts of the Republican agenda, he knows he has already won the biggest fight of all: the theft of a Supreme Court seat from President Obama, the installation of Justice Neil Gorsuch and the preservation of the court’s conservative majority for years to come.
What’s particularly galling here is the language. It’s as if the Times editorial board gave way to interns from Daily Kos and Think Progress to write this column after the board signed off on it.
They’re behaving as though Garland was confirmed, went to sit down and Mitch McConnell, shouting “Neener, neener!” pulled the chair back and pushed Neil Gorsuch into the seat. And as though McConnell then cackled as Garland fell embarrassingly to the floor, left to sit there, broken and stunned with the “stolen” seat now occupied by Gorsuch The Usurper.
The editorial board then goes on to quickly go over some of the cases Gorsuch ruled on, making sure to mention he agreed with Clarence Thomas most of the time. It’s meant to be a version of “scare quotes” because Thomas is you know….scary. You know who agrees with Thomas 86 percent of the time and 90 percent of the time, respectively? Anthony Kennedy and John Roberts.
The piece quickly gets back to Garland:
The problem is that he’s sitting in the seat that by rights should be occupied by Judge Garland. Had Mr. Garland been confirmed, the court would have had a majority of Democratic-appointed justices for the first time in almost half a century.
By rights? I ask rhetorically, “Are they serious?” It’s a rhetorical question because they wrote it. So they are serious.
First of all, that’s not what “by rights” means.
Secondly, they contradict themselves by claiming Garland had some claim on being a Supreme Court justice, but acknowledge in the next sentence it required confirmation. It’s fair to argue Garland should have received at least a hearing. But the votes were not there, and President Obama knew this. Credit goes to Judge Garland for handling all of it with dignity and grace, but the reality is, outside of Hillary Clinton winning in November, there was no way Garland was going to be confirmed.
That’s how it works. Elections do have consequences, and President Obama nominated and had confirmed, two of his Supreme Court nominees. When his party lost control of the Senate in 2014, it came with the knowledge he’d have difficulty getting his agenda through the legislative branch. Following the death of Justice Scalia, Mitch McConnell made clear a fight over a Supreme Court justice was not going to take place in a presidential election year.
President Obama thought McConnell was bluffing. He was wrong.
It’s political for sure, but Merrick Garland, contrary to the claims of the New York Times editorial board, did not “by rights” have a claim to a seat on the Supreme Court.