What They’re Saying: Pennsylvania Pols React to Obama’s Pick for Supreme Court
Today, Barack Obama made one of the most important decisions of his presidency: In his final NCAA tournament poll, he picked the Kansas Jayhawks to win the NCAA Championship.
The president has even launched a website section — complete with FAQ! — about Garland’s qualifications. Notably, it includes a quote from ultra-conservative Sen. Orrin Hatch praising Garland as a possible pick for the Supreme Court.
Naturally, the Republicans don’t want to confirm Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court. They have cited the Thurmond Rule, a guideline that judges shouldn’t be confirmed in the run-up to an election, though that guideline generally refers to a six-month time period. Basically: The GOP would rather have a conservative nominate the next Supreme Court justice, and it’s close enough to the election that Republicans can probably stall until then.
As such, Mitch McConnell said the GOP won’t even hold hearings on Garland. Republicans have a majority in the Senate, which needs to confirm Supreme Court nominees, and they plan to sit this one out.
“The next justice could fundamentally alter the direction of the Supreme Court and have a profound impact on our country, so of course the American people should have a say in the Court’s direction,” McConnell said in a statement. “The Senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the nominee the next President nominates, whoever that might be.”
Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, up for re-election this year, also released a statement saying he agreed with the decision to not hold hearings this year.
“With the U.S. Supreme Court’s balance at stake, and with the presidential election fewer than eight months away, it is wise to give the American people a more direct voice in the selection and confirmation of the next justice,” Toomey said in the release. “Should Merrick Garland be nominated again by the next president, I would be happy to carefully consider his nomination, as I have done with dozens of judges submitted by President Obama.”
President Obama demanded the Senate hold hearings on Garland. “I simply ask Republicans in the Senate to give him a fair hearing, and then an up-or-down vote,” the president said. “If you don’t, then it will not only be an abdication of the Senate’s constitutional duty, it will indicate a process for nominating and confirming judges that is beyond repair.”
Much like they’ve done earlier, Toomey’s rivals for the senate — the three main candidates for the Democratic nomination — all blasted Toomey for his stance. They all tweeted at him, actually!
— John Fetterman (@JohnFetterman) March 16, 2016
— Katie McGinty (@KatieMcGintyPA) March 16, 2016
Pat, by that logic, you should stop voting until after PA has a more direct voice in selecting their next Senator. https://t.co/DulTZT7P8O
— Joe Sestak (@JoeSestak) March 16, 2016
Meanwhile, Sen. Bob Casey issued a statement telling Republicans they’re just wrong to not hold hearings on the nominee. “The Constitution is clear,” he said in the release. “Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution explicitly requires the President to select a nominee for any vacancy to the Supreme Court, and the Senate to advise and consent on that nominee.
“The history is also clear. The Senate has taken action on every Supreme Court nominee in the last 100 years, regardless of whether the nomination was made in a presidential election year, and not since the Civil War has the Senate taken longer than a year to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. In 1987, Justice Kennedy was confirmed in the last year of President Reagan’s final term under a Democratic Senate, and the Senate has confirmed 17 Supreme Court nominees in presidential election years. It’s time for Republicans on the Judiciary Committee to reverse course.”
Also: At an event today at Villanova, GOP presidential candidate John Kasich agreed with not holding hearings (obviously): “I don’t think Obama should send anybody up now. It’s just not going to happen.”
Kasich is right, of course. Republicans have made up their minds, and there’s not really that much Democrats in the Senate can do to change that.
Follow @dhm on Twitter.