U.S. Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell kicked off the week by telling right wing radio host Hugh Hewitt that he is planning to block any U.S. Supreme Court nominee President Joe Biden makes if Republicans win back the Senate next year.
"Let me ask you, if you regain the majority in 2022 for the Republicans, and there's a very good chance of that happening," Hewitt posited, "would the rule that you applied in 2016 to the Scalia vacancy apply in 2024 to any vacancy that occurred then?"
McConnell responded by once again invoking happenstance as precedence.
"Well, I think in the middle of a presidential election, if you have a Senate of the opposite party of the president, you have to go back to the 1880s to find the last time a vacancy was filled," he said, not mentioning that none were actually blocked. "So I think it's highly unlikely. In fact, no, I don't think either party if it controlled, if it were different from the president, would confirm a Supreme Court nominee in the middle of an election. What was different in 2020 was we were of the same party as the president."
"And that's why we went ahead with it," McConnell added.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tells @hughhewitt he would not allow President Biden to fill a SCOTUS vacancy in 2024 if he is majority leader. pic.twitter.com/9gYAqXmyQD
— The Recount (@therecount) June 14, 2021
The U.S. Constitution says nothing about party control in the confirmation of a Supreme Court nominee, and in fact the founders warned of the dangers of even having political parties.
During the interview Hewitt credited McConnell's blocking of President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee to Donald Trump winning the 2016 election. Obama nominated then-Judge Merrick Garland 237 days before Election Day. McConnell bragged that blocking him is "the single most consequential thing I've done in my time as majority leader of the Senate."
Legal experts are blasting McConnell.
"I'm not convinced a Republican-controlled Senate will ever confirm another Democratic president's appeals court nominees, either," says Slate staff writer on courts and the law, Mark Joseph Stern. "*Maybe* a tiny handful, but as a rule, Republicans will hold those seats open. They've all but admitted as much!"
Sorry to repeat myself, but I am truly baffled by the seemingly widespread belief that a Republican-controlled Senate will ever again confirm a Democratic president's Supreme Court nominee. It's just not going to happen. Not in your lifetime, not in mine, not in anyone's. https://t.co/3HxisAM3ai
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) June 14, 2021
Democrats should assume that if Republicans win the Senate in 2022, they will refuse to confirm any of Biden's nominees to the courts of appeals or the Supreme Court. It'll be like the 2015-2016 blockade—but worse, because of what Republicans have gotten away with in the interim.
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) June 14, 2021
Clinton White House official, Harvard-educated attorney, CNN political commentator Keith Boykin:
Mitch McConnell will block any Biden nominee for the Supreme Court if Republicans control the Senate by 2024.
Now tell Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema that bipartisanship is a lie and the filibuster must be eliminated. And tell Stephen Breyer to retire.https://t.co/Ryzi1AQHkL — Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) June 14, 2021
Legal Affairs Editor, Condé Nast Luke Zaleski:
We're living through an endless cycle of republican abuse of power and obstruction of justice that has seen two impeachments and an ongoing insurrection so far. There is no end, no bottom, they simply will not comply with the imperatives of government or institutions of justice
— Luke Zaleski (@ZaleskiLuke) June 14, 2021
National Security attorney Brad Moss:
This is my not shocked face https://t.co/4NIyImIrjd
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) June 14, 2021
Voting rights expert and contributing writer at The Nation Ari Berman:
Mitch McConnell blocked Merrick Garland 8 months before election but confirmed Amy Coney Barrett 8 days before election when 65 million had already voted
And now he's saying he'd do it again — Ari Berman (@AriBerman) June 14, 2021
Election law expert, Professor of Law and Political Science at UC Irvine Rick Hasen:
Exactly as I wrote last week. McConnell will NOT fill a Breyer seat if he's majority leader, even if he has to wait 2 years with the seat open. https://t.co/n4Wvm0I99b https://t.co/Pm5NqyVdUV
— Rick Hasen (@rickhasen) June 14, 2021
US Senator for Massachusetts Ed Markey:
Mitch McConnell is already foreshadowing that he'll steal a 3rd Supreme Court seat if he gets the chance.
He's done it before, and he'll do it again. We need to expand the Supreme Court. https://t.co/TVs0JQuB5y — Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) June 14, 2021