President Obama is winning the Supreme Court fight as he is outsmarting Republicans at every turn and forcing them to choose between his confirming nominee or losing their own jobs.
During a joint press conference with King Abdullah of Jordan Obama said:
I think it will be very difficult for Mr. McConnell to explain how, if the public concludes that this person is very well qualified, that the Senate should stand in the way simply for political reasons. We’ll see what happens. And I think the situation may evolve over time. I don’t expect Mitch McConnell to say that is the case today. I don’t expect any member of the Republican caucus to stick their head out at the moment and say that. But let’s see how the public responds to the nominee that we put forward.
The one thing I think is important to dispel is any notion that somehow this is some well-established tradition, or some constitutional principle that a President in his last year of office cannot fill the Supreme Court vacancy. It’s not in the text of the Constitution. Ironically, these are Republicans who say they believe in reading the text of the Constitution and focusing on the intent of the Constitution. But none of the Founding Fathers thought that when it comes to the President carrying out his duties, he should do it for three years and then on the last year stop doing it.
There’s an argument that, well, the President shouldn’t do this because he is a lame duck. Well, the truth of the matter is, is that traditionally the term “lame duck” refers to the two or three months after an election has taken place in which a new President is about to be sworn in. I’ve got a year to go. I don’t think they would approve of me abdicating on my duties as Commander-in-Chief and to stop doing all the other work that I got to do. Well, this is part of my job.
There’s been arguments that for 80 years this has been the tradition. Well, that’s not the case. Justice Kennedy was approved after being nominated by Ronald Reagan in Ronald Reagan’s last year of office. They say, well, that’s different because he had been nominated in 1987, even if he was confirmed — or ’85 — even if he was confirmed in ’86. Well, the notion that there is some two-month period in which suddenly it all flips and everything shuts down, that’s not a credible argument.
What other arguments are they making? They suggest that, well, there had been a couple of times where Democrats said it would be wise for a President not to nominate someone. First of all, we know senators say stuff all the time. Second of all, these were comments that were made where there was no actual nomination at stake. So it has no application to the actual situation that we have right now.
So I understand the posture that they’re taking right now. I get the politics of it. I’m sure they’re under enormous pressure from their base and their constituencies around this issue. I’ve talked to many of them, and I’ve told them I’m sympathetic. And, by the way, there’s not a lot of vigor when they defend the position that they’re taking, that they wouldn’t even meet, for example, with a Supreme Court nominee. They’re pretty sheepish about it when they make those comments.
President Obama knows that he has Mitch McConnell trapped. McConnell has to choose whether he wants to lose his job as Majority Leader of the Senate, or confirm the President’s Supreme Court nominee. Obama isn’t giving Republicans an out. The President shattered all of the Republican excuses for their obstruction, and preemptively took the Republicans’ arguments away from them.
Time and time again, this president has been four steps ahead of his Republican opponents. The White House is pushing Republicans into a position of having to risk their own careers by blocking his nominee. The report that Obama is vetting a Republican for the potential nomination is a shrewd political move that is designed to keep the heat on Mitch McConnell.
The walls are closing in on the Senate Republicans. If they insist on blocking his Supreme Court nominee, President Obama is taking steps to make sure that Democrats win back control of the Senate in November. Mitch McConnell is proving to be no match for President Barack Obama.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association