Dan Gilmore / February 24, 2016

Senate GOP: We Won’t Consider Any Obama Nominee

Republicans are winning the political battle by opting not to play.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee said they will ignore any person Barack Obama nominates to fill the vacancy in the Supreme Court. “Because our decision is based on constitutional principle and born of a necessity to protect the will of the American people, this committee will not hold hearings on any Supreme Court nominee until after our next president is sworn in on Jan. 20, 2017,” the 11 senators wrote.

Republicans are winning Obama’s political battle over constitutional powers by opting not to play. As Sen. Orrin Hatch said, by cracking the door through signaling the judiciary committee might hold a hearing for an Obama nominee, it would only create more political posturing instead of answering a constitutional question. The principled stand comes with risk, though. A Pew poll found only 38% of Americans think the Senate should suspend the judge search until after a new administration comes into the White House, and 10% of those Americans could change their mind based on who Obama nominates. With many GOP seats on the line in November, the Senate could flip to Democrats.

In making this decision, the senators pointed to the precedent that no SCOTUS judge was appointed during the final months of a lame duck presidency since 1932. They also threw the hypocritical words Democrats made in the past arguing for the blockage of Republican nominees back into their faces. The letter cited the words Sen. Harry Reid said in 2005: “The duties of the Senate are set forth in the U.S. Constitution. Nowhere in that document does it say the Senate has a duty to give the presidential nominees a vote.” Goose, meet gander.

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