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Full of contradictions, the GOP seeks to appoint a new justice to the highest court in the land.
In February 2016, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia died. Within hours of his passing, as government officials were paying their respects, Sen. Mitch McConnell vehemently raced onto the Senate floor to block the prospects of a hearing for President Obama’s future nominee, Merrick Garland.
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” McConnell remarked. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
This effort to block a new nominee was made 11 months out from the general election and was in blatant disregard of Article II, section two of the constitution. Yet, now that the GOP has an opportunity to seat a textualist in the court, they suddenly want to reverse these standards.
The next election is about 40 days away. Wouldn’t this be a perfect opportunity to allow the American people to “Have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice” as McConnell asserted a few years ago? Apparently not.
A corollary that follows from McConnell’s statement is that the American people should be able to choose what manner of judge will sit in former Justice Ginsburg’s seat — after all, this is a lifetime appointment.
“If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump’s term, and the primary process has started, we’ll wait until the next election,” Sen. Lindsey Graham commented in 2018, who serves as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Now, in a sudden reversal, Sen. Graham has contradicted his own words by advocating to summon a hearing for the president’s nominee as soon as possible, knowing that the appointment process needs to be expedited; it usually takes longer than 40 days. Could a reason for this effort be that he is up for reelection in the red state of South Carolina?
The progressive political commentator, Kyle Kulinski, made a point that I duly reciprocate: this move to nominate a new justice is not about fairness, it’s about power.
The GOP knows the left has an agenda, expanding access to healthcare for the American people being one of their main goals. Since the court has the power of judicial review under Marbury v. Madison, the court will certainly strike down the prospect of Medicare-for-all if it is passed in Congress. This is what happened to many portions of the Affordable Care Act, a supposedly odious act which President Trump promised to repeal despite the majority of Americans’ support for the law.
Senate Republicans understand that getting Trump’s pick into Ginsburg’s seat is going to positively affect their interests, despite the majority of Americans not pushing for such interests. I am not arguing against protecting minority viewpoints within this country, but in the case of the aforementioned Medicare-for-all, the facts are barely partisan.
According to the Commonwealth Fund, the U.S. spends nearly one-fifth of its GDP on health care. This ranks us as the highest healthcare spenders in the world, yet we have a lower life expectancy and a higher disease burden than any other Western democracy. Not only this, but there are just under 28 million uninsured Americans, the majority of whom are southern males. These are some of the reasons why over 70 percent of U.S. citizens support healthcare reform.
Our lack of a fiscally efficient healthcare system is a salient issue, yet the GOP wants to stick to the status-quo and even nominate judges who will likely destroy efforts to extend care to more Americans. Didn’t McConnell want the peoples’ voices heard?
In light of potential judicial reviews, Trump desires to fill this seat quickly so there will be a greater conservative majority in the Supreme Court. If he gets his way, there will be a 6-3 conservative lean, bearing in mind the much less obsequious Chief Justice Roberts occasionally embraces the views of his less textual colleagues.
The bottom line is there is an abundance of hypocrisy in this effort to nominate a potential justice, and an even greater identity politics game within the president’s vow to nominate a woman. I assume nominating a female is less about supporting women and more about wagging off accusations of being misogynistic amid his past comments — centrally, his jokes about grabbing women by their genitals, which were petulantly defended as locker room talk.
The sudden GOP flip from blocking Merrick Garland’s hearing 11 months until the election to their current effort to approve a new justice 40 days from the general election is appalling. It is not about maintaining our republic or adhering to constitutional standards, but is about employing Randian levels of self-interest to a constitutional process which was intended to remain nonpartisan.
For these reasons I join the likes of many Democrats and two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, by advocating that the Senate must wait to approve the president’s nominee.