Before Antonin Scalia’s body was even cold, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced his intentions to block anyone President Obama might nominate to fill the empty seat on the Supreme Court, conveniently developing selective amnesia and forgetting that in 2005 he said the exact opposite, but then of course that was different because a Republican was in the White House.
Only one hour after Scalia was found dead, while Democrats were sending their condolences to his grieving family, McConnell issued a statement suggesting that Obama should leave the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice to whomever is elected president in November.
The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.
However, in 2005, when George W. Bush was set to replace Sandra Day O’Connor, McConnell thought quite differently about a President’s power to nominate judges to the highest court in the land, and the duties of the Senate when a nominee is named.
According to records from the States News Service from May 19, 2005, McConnell argued strongly that day in support of the Commander-in-Chief’s power to nominate Supreme Court justices…saying the exact opposite of what he said immediately after Scalia’s death:
Any President’s judicial nominees should receive careful consideration. But after that debate, they deserve a simple up-or-down vote. . . . It’s time to move away from advise and obstruct and get back to advise and consent. The stakes are high . . . . The Constitution of the United States is at stake. Article II, Section 2 clearly provides that the President, and the President alone, nominates judges. The Senate is empowered to give advice and consent. But my Democratic colleagues want to change the rules. They want to reinterpret the Constitution to require a supermajority for confirmation. In effect, they would take away the power to nominate from the President and grant it to a minority of 41 Senators.
Later that same day, on the Senate floor, McConnell again made his position crystal clear, a position that is the polar opposite of what he is arguing for today.
Because of the unprecedented obstruction of our Democratic colleagues, the Republican conference intends to restore the principle that, regardless of party, any President’s judicial nominees, after full debate, deserve a simple up-or-down vote. I know that some of our colleagues wish that restoration of this principle were not required. But it is a measured step that my friends on the other side of the aisle have unfortunately made necessary. For the first time in 214 years, they have changed the Senate’s ‘advise and consent’ responsibilities to ‘advise and obstruct.’… Given those results, many of us had hoped that the politics of obstruction would have been dumped in the dustbin of history. Regretfully, that did not happen.
Either McConnell took a severe blow to the head, causing some sort of amnesia, or he has simply decided the rules are different if the Oval Office is occupied by a liberal black President in the last year of an office he was elected to by the citizens of the United States…twice.
Featured image via video screen capture