Over the past few days, since the passing of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday night, you have surely heard the non-stop drumbeat about Republican hypocrisy and lack of principles because they plan to fill the Supreme Court vacancy prior to the presidential election in less than two months but would not do the same for Obama's pick, Merrick Garland, ahead of the 2016 election. Democrats, their corrupt lackies in the press, and internet libs have been engaging in this hysteria all week. In this piece we are going to illustrate how it is in fact the Democrats who are the real hypocrites on this topic.
Lets go back to the beginning for a moment, shall we? February 13, 2016 was a horrible day in American history. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in his sleep at the age of 79. Scalia was one of the most legendary jurists to ever sit on our highest court. And still sharp as a tack even at his advanced age (contrast with Joe Biden for example). This left the Supreme Court with a vacant seat just 9 months before the 2016 presidential election.
President Barack Obama immediately moved to nominate Merrick Garland (God rest his soul). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear that the upper chamber was not going to take up the nomination until after the election. He made numerous appearances in which he referenced the "Biden Rule" (in 1992, then-Senator Joe Biden said Republican President Bush 41 should not send a Supreme Court nominee to the Democratic Senate for confirmation should a seat open up during the election year - this was completely unprovoked as there was no actual open seat). McConnell also emphasized over and over again that you need to go back to 1888 to find the last time a divided government (Presidency and Senate of differing parties) confirmed a justice in a p residential election year. Democrat Grover Cleveland nominated Melville Fuller to replace the Chief Justice in April 1888 and he was confirmed by a Republican Senate in July. This fundamental nuance is the key to the whole thing.
So that brings us to the primary thesis. First, you cannot invoke 2016 and the Merrick Garland situation to try to brandish McConnell and Republicans as unprincipled hypocrites without at least acknowledging the same amongst Democrats in the two scenarios.
Take former President Barack Obama, for example, who had this to say in 2016:
But now he is claiming the following in his statement on the passing of RBG:
"Four and a half years ago, when Republicans refused to hold a hearing or an up-or-down vote on Merrick Garland, they invented the principle that the Senate shouldn’t fill an open seat on the Supreme Court before a new president was sworn in."
Or how about Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer? Rewind to 2016...
But then upon the news breaking of Ginsburg's death, he immediately ran to Twitter to blast out this tweet before even providing any condolences or celebrating the legacy of an American judicial icon. Talk about classless.
More importantly however, the main point here is not even that there is an equivalence between Republican and Democrat hypocrisy that is simply being ignored. It is that Democrats are the FAR GREATER hypocrites in this scenario. In fact, they are really the only principle-free hypocrites. In 2016, the argument from Mitch McConnell and the Republicans could effectively breakdown along the following lines...
Our Constitution grants both the President and the Senate an even distribution of the powers, both of which are required to place a Justice on the Supreme Court. The Senate's consent is not merely a rubber stamp on the President's nomination, but very much on the contrary, it is an equal and critical part of the process to ensure a check and balance of power. As things stood in 2016, the presidency was controlled by one ideological faction (liberal Democrats) and the Senate was controlled by their opposition (conservative Republicans). The latter made the argument that due to this ideological split "the people" should effectively be the tiebreaker at the ballot box.
When considered in these terms, this is hardly an unreasonable or radical position. The Democrats wanted a more leftist justice (nobody should buy the line that Garland was a moderate) and Republicans wanted someone closer to the Scalia mold or at least more moderate. With this ideological stalemate standing in the way "lets make it an issue of this campaign and allow The People to guide our way" seems like a very appropriate way to proceed, no? This was actually a major political risk for Mitch and the Republicans because at the time Hillary Clinton was a near lock for the presidency and their Senate majority was in serious doubt.
But the 2016 version of the Democrats felt the exact opposite. As illustrated above with Obama and Schumer, they believed the nomination was to be taken up by The Senate no matter what and regardless of proximity to an election. As far as the Democrats were concerned, the Senate was not free to exercise their constitutional power as they saw fit. Lets also not pretend that they wouldn't be singing the same tune (or worse even) if they dragged Merrick Garland through a brutal confirmation process just to vote him down anyway; a predetermined outcome. This was not about just getting the poor guy a vote, it was about getting their way. All about power and always was.
Perhaps no one has reversed their position as many times as now Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden. In 2016, he tried to deny that the 1992 Biden Rule even existed and now in 2020 he's saying that he should be the one to pick the next nominee. Where is the so-called principle? Isn't this just rank hypocrisy by their own standard?
The key here is that the calculus as it relates to the Republican argument has since changed. We no longer have divided government. We have a Republican President and a Republican Senate (whose majority was expanded in 2018 in large part due to the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation). There is no tie to be broken by the people under these circumstances because the two relevant levers of power are in agreement. The question then becomes what calculus has changed for Democrats? Their position was that the Senate should take up a nominee NO MATTER WHAT. So what has changed Obama, Biden, Schumer? Could it just be that you are the unprincipled ones engaging in a self interested pursuit of raw power and are projecting this very thing onto your political opponents? Seems that way, doesn't it?
The Democrats are unequivocally the hypocritical frauds in this whole ordeal. They are the ones completely lacking principle and character. Its not even up for debate, to be perfectly honest. The only way they can appeal to "precedent" is by straight up misrepresenting what the argument made by Republicans was in the first place. Much like Chuck Schumer does with his silly poster board as shown below, the remainder of the caucus, the Democrat nominee, and the corrupt press have all been perpetuating this same falsehood that there was a "new principle" (to use Obama's phrase) created in 2016 solely about proximity to the election while completely ignoring the one critical differentiating factor. The caveat which acts as the cornerstone to the entire argument - divided government in a year in which the people's voice is to be heard. These libs are long on lies and short on votes.
Cocaine Mitch does such a brilliant job of recounting and dismantling all of this during his Monday floor speech so I don't think there is any better way to close it out than with his remarks and a reminder that while things are likely to get pretty nasty over the next few weeks, do not fear and do not falter. Keep the Faith. Hold the Line. And #FillTheSeat. Because boy oh boy once we do...the best, will certainly, be yet to come.