A (Probably Useless) Letter to Senate Republicans on the Nomination of Supreme Court Justices

Dear Senate Republicans:

Today President Obama announced Merrick Garland as his selection for the next Supreme Court Justice. I know you know this already, as your Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already issued a statement in response to this announcement – refusing, in no uncertain terms, even to consider the nomination. In his words,

The Senate will continue to observe the ‘Biden Rule’ so the American people have a voice in this momentous decision. The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration. The next president may also nominate somebody very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in filling this vacancy.”

Here’s the problem, though, with McConnell’s statement: insofar as the election of the president represents the people’s voice in the matter of Supreme Court nominees, the people already have spoken. We elected Barack Obama to the presidency. This hasn’t changed merely because a new election will occur at the end of the year. None of us elected him with a caveat to just, you know, stop doing presidential things in the final year of his term.

Moreover, the tenuous justification of this so-called ‘Biden Rule’ that McConnell and others seem to so gleefully appeal to is also, as you are aware, not actually a thing. If one excerpt from a decades-old floor speech can qualify as a permanently binding Senate rule, then may God help all of you as well as the future of that institution. Biden has clarified that this is not his position, everyone has clarified that nothing in history has ever cemented this as a precedent, and I will clarify that appealing to this as your key source of justification for pure political maneuvering and obstructionism makes you look pretty damn ridiculous at best. I’ll refrain from writing what it makes you look like at worst, though I’m sure you can infer a guess or two.

For defenders of the Constitution, guys, you are only putting yourselves in the worst possible light by insisting that it is your constitutional right – nay, obligation (!!!) – to not just block a nominee, but to completely refuse even to hold a hearing or vote. The Constitution does not give you that right. Please read it again. It says the president nominates, and the Senate provides advice and consent on that nomination before an appointment is made. He nominated. Now you give advice and consent. If you have taken it upon yourselves to abandon your constitutional duty in this regard, then that’s all on you.

If you wonder why the Republican Party has become such a fractured mess lately, look no further than this absurd stunt. Acting in the best interest of the country is no longer the end game; political wins are the motivation, regardless of cost.

People everywhere on the political spectrum are disgusted by politics these days; it’s no coincidence that extreme polarization is rampant at all levels of political process. You should be making every effort to make genuine progress for this country and its citizens. This must involve some degree of bipartisan cooperation. It must. And you must recognize this.

 

For God’s sake, Senate Republicans. Just grow up and do your damn job.