WSJ: GOP Has ‘No Obligation’ To Entertain Democratic Demands On Judicial Nominations

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Feb 29, 2016 5:30 PM
WSJ: GOP Has ‘No Obligation’ To Entertain Democratic Demands On Judicial Nominations

With the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia, Senate Republicans were quick to declare that they would not confirm any Supreme Court nominee, as it should be the responsibility of the next president. Senate Democrats, of course, cried foul–until their dirty laundry was exposed. Sen. Harry Red (D-NV) noted how difficult the political climate was for judicial nominees to be confirmed during an election year in 2008. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) even went so far as to say that the Senate should block any future Bush nominations to the Supreme Court in 2007. Even then-Sen. Barack Obama was part of the failed push to filibuster Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court, which the White House says he now regrets.

Sen. Reid even penned an op-ed in the Washington Post about how this would be unprecedented obstructionism etc. etc., which no one should take seriously since Reid is out in January of 2017. He can literally say whatever he wants without any repercussions or consequences. Yet, the Wall Street Journal editorial board compiled a “greatest hits” list from Senate Democrats on judicial nominations, which prominently feature Reid:

After blockading Mr. Bush’s judicial slate, Mr. Reid as Senate Majority Leader changed the rules for Mr. Obama’s nominees on a partisan vote. Senate rules require a two-thirds vote to change its rules in mid-session, but in 2013 Mr. Reid forced through a change solely with a narrow Democratic majority.

This allowed him to trigger the “nuclear option” lowering the Senate threshold for appellate but not Supreme Court nominees to 51 from 60. The goal was to pack the D.C. Circuit with left-leaning judges who would bless Mr. Obama’s abuses of power, especially on health care and climate regulation. Mr. Obama was cheering him on all the way.

Mr. Reid now argues that the Senate’s “constitutional duty” is to give nominees an up-or-down vote, but in a May 2005 speech on Mr. Bush’s judges, he offered a different interpretation: “The duties of the Senate are set forth in the U.S. Constitution. Nowhere in that document does it say the Senate has a duty to give Presidential appointees a vote. It says appointments shall be made with the advice and consent of the Senate. That is very different than saying every nominee receives a vote.”

It’s impossible to know what Mr. Reid really believes, because whatever he claims to believe at any moment is whatever will maximize his own political power.

The Journal also noted the egregious ethnically-based 28-month long filibuster of Miguel Estrada, a Bush appointee, who Democrats feared would be a prime Supreme Court nominee if he were confirmed to the D.C. Court of Appeals. Estrada would later withdraw his name from consideration. The GOP should hold the line, but again, what happens when it looks as if Hillary is going to win the election? With a Democratic Senate, she would certainly fill that vacancy with a hard core liberal. It would complete what liberal America has waited for a long time: yanking the Court to the left. What’s the secondary protocol? Moreover, would GOP Senators go for hearing and possibly confirming a centrist Obama nominee, in which they would face the wrath of the party base? Then again, who knows what parade of horribles could come from the legal Pandora’ box a Clinton nominee would most likely open.