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February 17, 2016 03:59 PM UTC

GOP Already Caving On Scalia Stonewall? Watch Gardner

  • by: Colorado Pols

UPDATE #2: Sen. Cory Gardner’s comms director Alex Siciliano responds:

Apparently they missed this statement as you can see below. But to the larger point, we think we’ve figured out the trouble here, folks, and it’s pretty simple: Gardner’s “statement” means absolutely nothing. If the President sends the Senate an acceptable nominee, says Gardner, that nominee will be confirmed. As you know, that is how stuff already works per the Constitution. This could be a problem for Gardner’s friend Marco Rubio, who is on the presidential campaign trial right now assuring primary voters that Obama won’t get to pick Antonin Scalia’s replacement.

Then again, there is this whole other part in Gardner’s statement about waiting until the next President to replace Scalia because of what a bad guy Obama is–in fact that’s most of the statement. Might that be superceded by the brief aside about how the President could send them a nominee and that would be okay too? It seems like the answer could be a function of who Sen. Gardner is talking to at any given moment.

A series of statements from senior Republicans contradicted their own previously expressed views and seemed to question whether rank-and-file Republicans were completely on board with the plan from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to do nothing on a Supreme Court nominee this year and let the next president make the nomination.

If Mr. Siciliano or anyone ranking him would like to sort out exactly where Gardner stands as of this moment, it would be pretty easy to do! It’s worth noting that the GOP’s wall of opposition appears to be cracking all over, with lots of unsteady messaging as it does–so whatever you hear will most likely be subject to change.

It’s not easy being “Con Man Cory.”


UPDATE: Colorado Public Radio summarizes Sen. Cory Gardner’s latest statement sent to them:

President can either propose nominee who can win over Senate or defer to the voters.

If you’re wondering what the problem is in that case, since that’s always the case, so are we.


Sen. Cory Gardner (R).
Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

We’re beginning to detect what may be a softening in the Republican Party’s initial hard line after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last weekend against any nomination of a replacement under President Barack Obama, based on the simple tautological fact that Obama is the worst Kenyan President in American history. You’ll recall that Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner’s first response on the matter was not in any way in favor of compromise:

“Our country is at a crossroads, and whomever the Senate confirms to occupy the vacancy will have a significant impact on the direction of our country for years to come,” Gardner said.

He then highlighted the position of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said immediately after Scalia’s death that his seat “should not be filled until we have a new President.”

Said Gardner: “I join Leader McConnell and several of my colleagues in allowing for the American people to play a role in the selection process when they cast their ballots in November.”

The response to the GOP’s apparent stonewalling of President Obama with almost a year left in his term in the last few days has not been positive, with editorial boards around the country angrily calling for Republicans to give Obama’s forthcoming nominee a fair hearing. Outside a radicalized Republican base that is always ready to go to engage in scorched-earth partisan war with Obama on any subject, the GOP’s pre-emptive rejection of any nominee just plain looks bad. It looks like a petty disregard of the process spelled out by the Constitution to deal with these situations out of partisan spite.

And a presidential election is just months away.

With that in mind, we do find this update from Colorado Public Radio today to be more than a little curious:

So what gives? Where’s cocky Cory from the weekend? Behind the scenes, Republicans may be realizing that they’ve overplayed their hand. Washington Post:

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) told Iowa radio reporters that he had not determined whether to have hearings before the Judiciary Committee, which he chairs. “I would wait until the nominee is made before I would make any decision,” Grassley, the committee chairman, said.

Another member of the Judiciary panel, freshman Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), noted that Republicans could not expect to have President Obama choose a nominee in the mold of Scalia, who for almost 30 years has been the ideological leader of the court’s conservative bloc, and must worry about being seen as merely obstructing the president… [Pols emphasis]

Needless to say, this is not the hard line you hard from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell–and it’s not what you heard from Gardner last weekend, either. Negotiations in Washington between the White House and the GOP-controlled U.S. Senate by all accounts continue, but they’re not happening in a vacuum. Voters are paying attention–and with Republicans defending some two dozen Senate seats this year, what voters think of this latest round of intransigence could count for a great deal on Election Day.

Whatever happens, Cory Gardner’s zigs and zags are an excellent canary in this coal mine.


15 thoughts on “GOP Already Caving On Scalia Stonewall? Watch Gardner

    1. We’d be happy if they actually adhered to the Constitution that they profess to revere and put the national interest ahead of their own ideological agendas.

      Then again, what can we expect from the Republican’ts? They can’t govern and they can’t lead.

  1. Fire!  Ready.  Aim.

    Hey can you hold this cat?  I just need to grab a bag and…oh, well, that's awkward.

    The Republicans destroyed the fiction that allowed moderate conservatives to maintain their state of denial about just how riddled with crazy the Congress has become.  They had been able to say, "It's not that we're not doing anything, but that the president has a radical vision for the country, and any reasonable action taken is met with opposition."  Now, well, there's none of that.  Scalia's body wasn't even cold, and Yertle, in a rush to reassure the base of his newly-found right-wing cred, gave up the game.  And the lemmings came right along, never dreaming what repercussions might lie ahead.

    Well, welcome to a set of news cycles filled entirely with, "the Republican Senate xxx says, but that has to be evaluated in light of the fact that he/she said that no nominee would pass muster back in February."

    Thanks, guys. A crazy presidential nominee was enough, but we won’t look a gift horse in the mouth!

  2. They overplayed their hand, which consisted of essentially ignoring the Constitution. Mitch proved he is an idiot once again.  What he should have done is said that the Senate will give the nominee due consideration and fully debate his nomination.  Voting a nominee down is an appropriate outcome, even if I personally disagree with it.  Not permitting the Constitutional process to carry out is not acceptable.  Perhaps McConnell and Grassley are realizing this.  It is a big backtrack, but a wise one.  Do I expect a nominee to be confirmed?  No.  But I do expect, as a citizen, that a nominee will be named by the President and that a vote on that nomination will be had by the Senate.  I would not want to be that nominee, however.

  3. 20,776,265 Reasons Why The GOP Should Confirm Obama’s Supreme Court Nominee

    “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in a statement almost immediately after news of the justice’s death broke. “Therefore,” McConnell added, “this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”

    It’s a good talking point! People like democracy, and they like the idea of having a voice in their government. Moreover, the fact that the White House and the Senate are controlled by different parties, at the very least, creates the illusion that Democrats and Republicans have equal claims to democratic legitimacy in this fight. The American people created this impasse by electing rival factions to control the two essential players in a Supreme Court nomination fight. Why not let the same voters decide how to resolve such an impasse?

    But McConnell’s claim to democratic legitimacy rests on a bed of sand. The only reason why Republicans are not in the minority in the Senate is because the Congress’s upper house is malapportioned to make Americans in small states count more than Americans in more populous states. The 46 members of the Senate Democratic caucus represent over 170 million people. The 54 Republican senators represent less than 150 million.

    1. (California born here)

      You can fit 32 Senators worth of population into California. A third of the freaking Senate. Connecticut, Nevada, Iowa, New Mexico, Georgia, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Vermont, Delaware, Alaska, Nebraska, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Idaho, Oregon and Kansas. That's how bad it is. Virginia was 10 times more populous than Rhode Island after the first Constitutional census. CA is 65 times the size of Wyoming, and it on track to by 100 times its size by 2050. 

      If Trump is elected President, I'm starting a California secessionist movement (Constitutionally bound, of course, and I think all the crazy red states would let us amend things to allow it). 

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