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February 15, 2016 12:35 PM UTC

How Republicans Completely Botched Supreme Court Strategy

  • by: Colorado Pols

UPDATE: An astute on-background source corrects us:

Gardner isn’t hedging: he’s rationalizing. And it’s not Teflon Cory: it’s Con Man Cory.


UPDATE: Sen. Cory Gardner jumps on the obstruction bandwagon:

Well, sort of:

Because that’s not always the way it is? Both sides await clarification on “Teflon Cory’s” non-position.


Sorry, Mitch McConnell, but you don't get a "do-over" on this one.
Sorry, Mitch McConnell, but you don’t get a “do-over” on this one.

Conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died on Saturday, setting off an entirely new round of political wrangling just as the 2016 Presidential election starts to really heat up. As we wrote in this space over the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell really backed Republicans into a corner when he took an unnecessarily hard-line stance on opposing any potential Supreme Court nominee put forth by President Obama.

In contrast to the bungled response from Republicans, President Obama issued a very simple, impossible-to-argue statement of his own when he said, “I plan to fulfill my constitutional duties to name a successor.”

Now that political pundits and the media have had time to digest the whirlwind of activity following Scalia’s unexpected death, the verdict is in: Republicans shot themselves in both feet. From “The Fix”:

Saying publicly — and on the same day that Scalia died — that replacing the justice was a non-starter, Senate Republicans sent a very clear message to the American voters: We aren’t even going to make a show of playing ball on this one…[Pols emphasis]

…With McConnell’s statement on Saturday night, the chance for Republicans to “win” on the Court nomination becomes remote.  Refusing to even take part in the process — even though that process could have easily yielded the GOP’s desired result — hands Obama and Senate Democrats a political cudgel to bash the GOP.

It’s an unforced error by Senate Republicans that will be difficult to mop up. And one that could cost them at the ballot box in November.

As Chris Cillizza explains for “The Fix,” it would have made infinitely more sense for Republicans to just hold their fire until President Obama offered up a name to succeed Scalia. At that point, Senate Republicans could have hemmed and hawed and gummed up the process long enough for the 2016 election to play out — without ever having to state publicly that they had no intention of giving the nominee a fair hearing.

Republicans have handed President Obama and Senate Democrats a no-lose scenario here. The GOP can’t say with a straight face that they have an issue with any one particular nominee, and Democrats can say that Republicans are openly refusing to follow through on their Constitutionally-mandated duties. As we wrote on Saturday:

It’s bad enough that the current Republican Congress has been historically worthless in terms of actual governing. Now Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to spread this impotence to the Supreme Court, too?

The next time McConnell or any of his GOP Senate colleagues start talking about the importance of “following the Constitution,” go ahead and stick a finger in each ear while softly humming to yourself.

If it makes you feel any better, Sen. McConnell, you won’t have nearly as much pressure when Senate Republicans are once again the minority party in 2017.


34 thoughts on “How Republicans Completely Botched Supreme Court Strategy

  1. I think Obama should name an openly gay candidate.  That always brings tfhe worst possible behaviour from Republicans, who will then further alienate under 40 voters and hand Democtrats the Senate.

  2. I'm posting this only because we all know that the Senate is in official recess, not the kind where someone keeps the lights on so POTUS can't do anything fishy while they're out of town. Someone was asleep at the switch?  Surely someone has summoned the leadership back to DC to prevent a possible recess appointment?  In my opinion Obama wouldn't do this (even though 12 justices have made it to the bench this way)  but it does make for good cocktail conversation.  

  3. I'm shocked, shocked I tell you that McConnell is refusing to allow a SCOTUS appointment this year!

    A spokesman for Mitch McConnell said that the Senate should confirm judicial appointees through at least the summer.  The cutoff for confirming judges in an election year, known as the “Thurmond Rule,” “doesn’t need to be June, especially because we’re so far behind on the legislative calendar,” he said.

    Similarly, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) said, “Let me say this about the Thurmond Rule. It is a myth. It does not exist. There is no reason for stopping the confirmation of judicial nominees in the second half of a year in which there is a presidential election.”           

    Even a Bush spokesperson said that the “only thing clear about the so-called ‘Thurmond Rule’ is that there is no such defined rule.” 


    Of course, all that was in 2008, when George W. Bush was the lame-duck president and Democrats controlled the Senate.

    Now that it’s 2016, and the tables are turned, McConnell has said he’d be shocked, shocked if President Obama nominated a Supreme Court justice as late as February of his final year in office.

    McConnell should be asked to explain exactly what the difference is between these two situations.  Oh I know, the reasons are black and white devil

    1. You know if the shoe was on the other foot, Ginsberg had passed suddenly while the Senate was in recess, and they had the chance to pack the court with another Scalia – they'd do it in a heartbeat.  I'd be surprised if POTUS would do that – but may be he'll surprise us. 

      1. We have McConnell and others on record that they will spit on the Constitution and refuse to even vote on a nominee for at least 11 months,   Yeah, I'd make a recess appointment — maybe Cory Booker.  And have fun doing it.

          1. A recess appointment lasts until the next session of the Senate ends, unless that appointee is approved before that date.

            Article 2, Section 2, Clause 3: The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

            So, late 2017, I believe.

          2. To answer my own question it appears that a recess appointment would expire in january, when hillary or bernie (let us pray) coulld make their own appointment.  There is some doubt about whether this 10 day recess is long enough .  A ptevious case suggests it has to be ten days but is unclear whether Sundays count and wther you can act After te n days or during.  Of course only SCOTUS could answer that and it could deadllock 4_4.  

  4. How does Gardner's position comport with the ideas of his meth smoking, paranoid and ignorant supporters/radio hosts, talked about all the time down here, that Obama is going to cancel the election and become dictator for life?

  5. The damage Republicans have done to themselves with their knee jerk 'No to the nigger' over this issue could have long term consequences for creeps like Gardner.  All they had to do was wait until Obama announced his nominee then they could have gone into full 'No' mode without any consequences.  This just rips away the facade of adoring the Constitution in their speeches while shitting on it with their actions.  This is the time to put Gardner under the microscope and make him disavow the Constitution with all his hilarious rationalizations.  Give them as much rope as they want.

    1. Exactly. None of their excuses as to why Obama shouldn't even consider making an appointment in the last year of his presidency holds water. Especially the excuse that the people should be allowed to weigh in.

      News flash, Republicans. The people already have. They weighed in when they voted for Obama by a margin of 5 million votes to serve a second term running from late January 2013 to late January 2017, knowing that one of the duties and privileges of the Presidency is the appointment of Justices to the Supreme Court.

      As long as he's President he most certainly should and has the absolute right to fulfill all of the duties of that office. If the Rs choose to obstruct so be it but they have no grounds, constitutional or ethical, for demanding he refrain from making the appointment.

    2. I think you're wrong about how this will damage the GOP. They've been campaigning for the last 7 years on not giving the nigger anything. In that time they've been rewarded with majorities in the senate, house, and state governments. They will proudly run and run hard on preventing the islamohomocommiefacist…..(nigger) program from DESTROYING 'MERICA.

      This is no time to laugh at their foolishness. No one ever got elected by underestimating the intelligence of the American voter.

      About the best we can hope for this cycle is either Hillary or Bernie getting elected. The makeup of the legislative branch will probably remain unchanged. Obstruction will be the order of the day. The only thing that will change is that we'll be treated to kike or cunt "jokes".

      1. On the bright side they have also been unable during that time to prevent the election to the WH of a Dem, even one many of their grassroots supporters characterize in the way you cite, sadly including my black sheep uncle, the conservative Fox fan in a vast extended family of pro-labor Dems. When the next Dem is elected, please God, they won’t be able to obstruct that President’s choice indefinitely whether or not they manage it for the rest of Obama’s term.

        1. As long as there is no electoral fallout, it's to the Republican's advantage to delay any additional appointments. Much has been made about the 4-4 split slightly benefiting more progressive and environmental causes in the near term. However, given the age distribution of the judges (Kennedy – 79, Ginsburg – 82 and Breyer – 77) it's at least plausible (2 in 3, Kennedy is only "liberal" on gay rights issues) that the next vacancy will give the court a 4 – 3 conservative block.

          R's will take that for as long as it lasts and "clear up" all the 4 – 4 decisions while they're at it.

          The other two likely vacancies put the court at a 3 – 2 conservative majority. Do you think that the R's, given senate majorities, couldn't string out the appointment process for another 8 years?

      2. In "A Book of Five Rings" the legendary Sumurai swordsman Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645) spoke of becoming the enemy.  In large-scale strategy, people tend to believe that the enemy is always strong and therefore become cautious.  He used the example of a robber inside a house as being in a fortified position but from the robbers perspective, he is trapped with no escape.  He reiterated that if you have good troops, a solid understanding of strategy and you know the enemies weaknesses than you should proceed confident that you can prevail.

        Just because Republicans have been successful in the past with overblown fears and extremism, it doesn't mean that their strategy will be successful in the future with a different landscape.

        1. One can hope. After all, the Know Nothing Party eventually died out.

          Maybe the nomination of a reality show star or a Christian Reconstructionist will start that process. (there's always a) However, given the amount of money the Koch suckers have given the religious right nutjobs, I'm not optimistic (but I guess you can tell that from my previous posts).

  6. Frankly, i can't think of a better group to have hurt the GOP, than the GOP themselves. and Boy oh boy are they good at it. Thanks Cory, Thanks Mitch.  you and your party will successfully help get out the DEMOCRATIC vote with how poorly you sycophants tend to act. BRAVA!!!

  7. As I said to my wife on Saturday (before the "nobody, no how" howls arose from the Senators) "Just watch. As usual, the Republicans will go just that much too far and screw themselves again over Scalia's death." I never miss with these idiots.

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