Thursday, February 02, 2017

The Myth of the Stolen Supreme Court Seat


Democrats set the standard for the GOP on judicial confirmations.
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL - The confirmation battle over Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is off and running, and opponents already know he’s superbly qualified with a fine judicial temperament. But Democrats are still itching for a fight, and their first line of offense is the myth of the “stolen” seat.
“This is a seat that was stolen from the former President, Obama, that’s never been done in U.S. history before,” declared Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley in announcing that he will attempt to filibuster Judge Gorsuch. “To let this become normal just invites a complete partisan polarization of the Court from here to eternity.” The “stolen” line is echoing across Progressive Nation, but it’s a complete political invention.
The “theft” is supposedly the GOP Senate’s refusal last year to vote on President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat. But the standard of not confirming a Supreme Court nominee in the final year of a Presidency was set by . . . Democrats. And by no less a Beltway monument than the current Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer.
“We should not confirm any Bush nominee to the Supreme Court, except in extraordinary circumstances,” Mr. Schumer declared in a July 2007 speech to the American Constitution Society. Democrats then held the Senate and Mr. Schumer was putting down a marker if someone on the High Court retired. George W. Bush didn’t get another opening, but Mr. Schumer surely meant what he said.
The Democratic theft standard goes back further to Joe Biden’s days as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In June 1992 in President George H.W. Bush’s final year, Robber Joe opined that the President “should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not name a nominee until after the November election is completed.”
Naming a new Justice, he said, would ensure that a confirmation “process that is already in doubt in the minds of many will become distrusted by all.” If Mr. Bush made an election-year nomination, Mr. Biden said his committee should consider “not scheduling confirmation hearings on the nomination until after the political campaign season is over.”
Does anyone outside the MSNBC audience think that had the roles been reversed in 2016, and a Democratic Senate faced a Republican Court nominee, Harry Reid would have held a confirmation vote? As John McEnroe liked to shout, “You can’t be serious!”
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