It’s official. Judge Amy Coney Barrett is now Justice Amy Coney Barrett. She was qualified. Her confirmation hearings went off without any hitches. She’s the full package, and now she’s on the Court. We have a true conservative majority now that Chief Justice John Roberts has decided to stab us in the back and join the liberal wing. Yet, there was one anecdote Democrats hurled out during ACB’s confirmation fight that really wasn’t true. It was uttered by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) during the vice presidential debate. You see, she claimed that when Abraham Lincoln had a Supreme Court vacancy before the 1864 election, just 27 days prior, he held off because “Honest Abe said, ‘It’s not the right thing to do. The American people deserve to make the decision about who will be the next president of the United States, and then that person will be able to select who will serve on the highest court of the land.’”
That’s Kamala Harris’ history lesson—and it’s wrong. It’s unsurprising for a political party that’s dumb about history and whose base is historically illiterate. Even The Washington Post had to weigh in and politely give Harris a history lesson in why her interpretation is egregiously off the mark. They added that the only thing Harris got right was that there was a vacancy 27 days before the election [emphasis mine]:
Harris is correct that a seat became available 27 days before the election. And that Lincoln didn’t nominate anyone until after he won. But there is no evidence he thought the seat should be filled by the winner of the election. In fact, he had other motives for the delay.
On Oct. 12, 1864, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney died at the age of 87. He had been chief justice for nearly 30 years but will always be best-known — or rather, notorious — for writing the majority opinion in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case, in which he declared that Black people were inferior and “had no rights which the White man was bound to respect.” (The House voted to remove a bust of Taney from the U.S. Capitol over the summer amid the George Floyd protests.)
Taney had been sick for years, so it didn’t come as a surprise to Lincoln that he might have the opportunity to name his own chief justice, according to Michael Kahn, the former head of the board of directors of President Lincoln’s Cottage. But Lincoln was preoccupied with both his campaign and the Civil War — Sherman’s troops had just captured Atlanta and would soon march to the sea. He told his aides he wouldn’t nominate anyone immediately, because he was “waiting to receive expressions of public opinion from the country,” according to historian Michael Burlingame in “Lincoln: A Life.”
And then there was Salmon P. Chase. Chase was a former senator, governor of Ohio and treasury secretary who, according to Burlingame, thought he was destined to be president. He had vied unsuccessfully against Lincoln for the Republican nomination in 1860. Though Lincoln disliked him, Chase had a lot of supporters. Chase’s opponents told Lincoln all the nasty things Chase had said about him behind his back.
The overarching effect of the delay is that it held Lincoln’s broad but shaky coalition of conservative and radical Republicans together. And it kept rivals like Chase in line. Chase, who had often been critical of Lincoln in the past, immediately began stumping for the president across the Midwest, sparking rumors of a secret deal, according to Kahn.
Congress was in recess until early December, so there would have been no point in naming a man before the election anyway.
The publication added that in this time period, and I can’t believe we have to say this, a lot of the delay was due to letters of recommendation coming in by mail as to who should fill the seat. So, that takes time, plus Lincoln was managing only the greatest crisis this nation has ever seen with the Civil War and fighting to keep his party’s coalition together, which he would need if he was to accomplish the death of slavery in America via the passage of the 13th Amendment. You see this is why you really can’t count on liberals with their historical interpretations, especially when they try to apply current situations to past events. They end up looking like idiots. This story is wrong, Kamala, but that doesn’t matter. The GOP had the votes to confirm from the get-go—and that’s happened. It’s over. I would recommend removing this Lincoln anecdote from your talking points the DNC gave you.