Senate Republicans Have the Votes, BUT...
Trump and the GOP must overcome The Mother of All Obstruction Efforts.
With a Monday evening statement of support from Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, Republicans appear to have the votes necessary to move forward with and confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
So far, the only Republicans who’ve expressed opposition to considering a nominee prior to the November 3 election are Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Maine’s Susan Collins. Utah Senator and impeachment turncoat Mitt Romney met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell today and announced that he’d “follow the Constitution and precedent in considering the President’s nominee.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, apparently unaware of how our constitutional system of government works, said President Donald Trump has “no right” to confirm a nominee so close to an election.
On the contrary, the president has every right to do this, just as our Constitution dictates within Article II, Section 2. Indeed, a sitting president has an obligation to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court, and that solemn duty isn’t somehow overridden by the election-year caterwauling of his political opposition.
Senator Ted Cruz, as our Mark Alexander noted in his analysis yesterday, provided a brief but compelling history lesson in favor of filling the Ginsburg seat: “Twenty-nine times there has been a vacancy in a presidential election year. Presidents have made nominations all 29 times.” All 29 times.
And, as Trump Communications Director Tim Murtaugh correctly pointed out, “We elect the president for a term of four years, not three years and nine months.”
So President Trump has both the constitutional right and the obligation, and the Republican-controlled Senate has the votes. But the real question is this: Does the GOP have the smarts, the resolve, and the necessary steel in their spines to overcome every outlandish procedural hurdle that the Democrats will certainly put in their way between now and Election Day?
The clock is ticking, and it will strike midnight on January 3, when the term of the current Senate expires. But long before then, as Andy McCarthy points out, the Republicans’ essential voting majority may well shrink to a point where it can no longer overcome its defectors. “There’s a 53-47 Republican edge [in the Senate] right now,” McCarthy writes, “but that may not last for very long after the election. The election in Arizona, unlike the other Senate elections in the country this year, is a special election. … If [Democrat] Mark Kelly defeats [incumbent Republican] Martha McSally, he could be a senator on November 30, which means the 53-47 edge during a lame duck [session] very quickly becomes 52-48.”
McSally, a former fighter pilot who lost her initial Senate bid in 2018 to Kyrsten Sinema but was later appointed by Governor Doug Ducey to fill the late John McCain’s seat, currently trails Mark Kelly, a former astronaut and the husband of former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, by 6-7 points. The Arizona electorate has been trending toward the Democrats in recent years, and McSally’s Senate seat is in deep trouble.
But beyond the fight of McSally’s life, the Democrats are prepping for “total war” in their effort to deny this Supreme Court appointment to President Trump. If they’re successful, they’ll also deny it to all Americans who appreciate judges who interpret our Constitution as it was written rather than trying to mold it to serve their specific interests.
If President Trump and Senate Republicans succeed, however, this total war from the Democrats will likely include packing the High Court to overcome the current conservative majority, statehood (and four more Democrat Senate seats) for Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico, and an end to the Senate’s 60-vote legislative filibuster.
Donald Trump could, of course, render this discussion meaningless by winning in a landslide on November 3, so long as the Republicans also resoundingly retain the Senate. But landslides across the board aren’t likely in a 50-50 nation, and any victory short of that will invite endless legal challenges from the Democrats, their legions of lawyers, and their magical vote finders. Which makes it essential that both President Trump and the Senate move with a sense of extreme urgency.