McConnell, GOP Candidates, Badly Mishandle Scalia Successor Issue

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia delivers his keynote address at Utah State University's conference called "Freedom and the Rule of Law" on September 15, 2008 in Logan. Photo: Kristin Murphy.

The ironic thing is that if he held to his convictions, it would be Antonin Scalia who would be clamoring for the president to nominate a Supreme Court Justice and for the Senate to advise and consent—even if it’s to reject the nominee. Of course, there is no guarantee Scalia wouldn’t just chuck his convictions and go with the politics of the whole thing. The super-conservative Scalia was a strict constructionist who will now be commenting from the bench about as often as Clarence Thomas (too soon?).

I understand they didn’t have much time before having to take the stage in another schoolyard fight disguised as a debate Saturday night but the Republican presidential candidate blew it when asked about the process now that Scalia was gone. To a person, the would-be presidential candidates announced that the sitting president shouldn’t act. (The debate was very much like a WWE wrestling match, just without the dignity, sincerity, and respect. The only positive was that they all walked on stage without screwing it up and causing a traffic jam.)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell waited all of about 15 minutes after learning of Scalia’s death to throw ice water on any talk of Pres. Obama choosing a justice who could change the balance of the court in favor of more liberal group.

I’m not sure how this is a controversy. The Constitution is not ambiguous on this issue. There is no qualifier that the process not be done in an election year. Despite the clowns on stage Saturday night saying otherwise, there is precedent for a justice to be considered in an election year. (I’m pretty sure the “80 years” cited by Marco Rubio was pulled out of thin air.)

McConnell, the candidates, and everyone else who is on record as saying they will oppose anyone who is nominated are now disqualified from considering any nominee.

There are some things to keep in mind. The GOP is playing with fire by saying it would not even take up any nomination until after the fall election. Consider:
• There is a very good chance the next Senate will have a Democratic majority. They need only four seats and they have some super strong candidates such as New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, Illinois Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth—an Iraqi war veteran, former Wisconsin US Sen. Russ Feingold, Florida US Rep. Patrick Murphy—running for Rubio’s now open seat. And there are others.

• There could be another Democrat in the White House. Hillary Clinton could win and Bernie Sanders, well, no one knows. The ultimate F-U to Republicans would be if a new Democrat in the White House nominated private citizen Barack Obama to the court.

For what it’s worth, this is a great time to be a political junkie, I wish there was a Republican presidential debate a couple of times a week.