When Antonin Scalia died in 2016, Mitch McConnell and the Republicans refused to let the sitting president, Barak Obama, fill the empty seat on the Supreme Court. They said that it was an election year and the seat should be filled by the new president. Everyone knows that. It was an unbelievably scummy thing to do, but totally consistent with what the Republicans have been for the past fifty years or more.
Now that Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died, in an election year, McConnell and the Republicans have changed their tune and decided that her seat should be filled by the sitting president, Donald Trump. Everyone knows that. It’s wildly hypocritical, but, again, totally consistent with what the Republicans have been for the past fifty years or more.
Now I (and all Democrats, really) have a conundrum. I desperately don’t want Donald Trump to appoint Ginsburg’s replacement, but I have no principled argument for why he shouldn’t. The Republicans were dead wrong in 2016. It is the sitting president’s right and duty to appoint a justice should a vacancy open during his term. Any arguments to the contrary are ridiculous. It doesn’t say anywhere in the Constitution that the president’s powers and duties stop or change before the next president is inaugurated. I don’t even care if Scalia had died in December and Trump had already won the election, Obama should still have chosen Scalia’s replacement. I’ve always thought the idea of a lame duck was nonsense.
Predictably, the Democrats don’t seem to be bothered like I am. At least they don’t show it if they are. They seem to be doing everything in their power to prevent Trump getting the pick. They’re making a show of respectability by saying they are following McConnell’s precedent, but it doesn’t take a genius to realize that it’s bad to follow a bad precedent. I don’t like invoking slippery slopes, but I’m really scared by where this seems to be taking us.
Mitch McConnell’s reign as Senate Majority Leader has been a disaster for America and the American people. It’s going to take decades to fix the damage he’s done, if it’s even possible to fix it. I don’t even know what I’m hoping for anymore.