Saturday, February 27, 2016

Supreme Politics

Hoping to preserve the thirty-year conservative majority on the Supreme Court by injecting politics into the justice confirmation process, Senate Republican leader A. Mitchell McConnell made it clear that the Senate Republican majority would not hold a vote on, hold hearings for, or even receive any jurist that President Obama nominates for the late Antonin Scalia's vacant seat.  McConnell said that it was not proper to have a lame-duck President fill a Supreme Court seat in an election year and that the next President - whom McConnell obviously assumes will be a Republican - should fill the vacancy instead.  Obama tried to play Mitch Mac's  game by injecting politics into the justice nomination process, suggesting a possible appointee the Republicans would have a hard time saying no to.  It did not go over well . . . with anyone.
Obama let it be known that he was considering Nevada governor Brian Sandoval for the vacancy.  Sandoval, a Republican and a former federal judge, is liberal on social issues and conservative on business-labor issues - unlike most Republicans these days, a true moderate.  He's also Hispanic.  He may even be the most popular Republican governor in the country right now, maybe because he's not running for President.  Well, what would be wrong with appointing him?  
A lot, it turned out.  Senate Republicans scorned the idea outright because they found Sandoval to be insufficiently conservative, while Democrats found him to be too much of a centrist to rally the party's liberal base to come out and vote in November were his nomination to be blocked.  Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton shot down the idea in one of her latest pandering exercises to liberals.  "I know the Governor has done some good things," the noted Monsanto supporter said on the campaign trail, "but I sure hope the President chooses a true progressive who will stand up for the values and the interests of the people of this country."
Well, Hillary, that certainly rules out someone like you! 
So, Obama hoped to nominate someone in the center to reach out to centrist voters, assuming there are any remaining, and maintain a sense of ideological balance in the Supreme Court, but all he did was insult partisans on both sides.  And on top of that, Sandoval himself further embarrassed the President by refusing the nomination, which Obama hadn't even formally made yet.
I guess Barry Goldwater was right; moderation in the pursuit of a justice is no virtue.  Moderation in the pursuit of a Supreme Court justice obviously isn't.  And Obama should have realized something when tangling with Mitch Mac - you can't torment a tormentor. 
Oh yeah, Illinois senator Mark Kirk, who holds Obama's old Senate seat, believes that President Obama should be able to nominate a Supreme Court justice.  Kirk is a Republican.  I admire him for taking a stand contradictory to those in his caucus, but you don't suppose his stance is based on the fact that he's up for re-election in November?  Nahhh  . . . ;-)    

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