Mitch McConnell's squirrelly effort to rewrite our Constitution

Monday, February 22, 2016   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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Antonin Scalia is gone. The nastiest and noisiest of right wingers on the Supreme Court is dead.

But he can't be more brain dead than Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader of the US Senate. In a blatantly-partisan ploy to prevent President Obama from nominating a successor to Scalia, McConnell has cited a historical precedent dictating that presidents who're in the last year of their term do not name new justices to the high court. "Therefore," he babbled, "this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president."

What a silly old squirrel, McConnell is! Article II of the US Constitution plainly states that the president "shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint... Judges of the Supreme Court." Note that the Constitution says the president "shall" do this – as a duty to the Nation. Nothing in the founding document suggests that this power and duty is voided in an election year. In fact, 13 Supreme Court nominations have been made in presidential election years, and the Senate took action on 11 of them. McConnell's assertion is bogus (and silly), for history and the Constitution clearly back Obama.

Ironically, one who would have nailed McConnell for such a slapstick political perversion of plain constitutional language is Scalia himself. He practiced what he called "originalism" in his official judgments, insisting that the Constitution must be interpreted only by the words in it and only by the original meaning those words had for the founders when they wrote them into the document.

McConnell's squirrelly stall tactic is as ridiculous as it is shameful. It's also totally hypocritical, since Mitch himself voted in February 1988 to confirm a Supreme Court nominee put forth by Ronald Reagan – in the last year of his presidency.

"In Court Fight, History Backs Obama," www.nytimes.com, February 16, 2016.

"More Republicans Vow to Block Any Nominee," www.nytimes.com, February 16, 2016.

"Battle Over Bench Started Well Before Scalia's Death," www.nytimes.com, February 15, 2016.

"Supreme Court Nominees Considered In Election Years Are Usually Confirmed," www.nytimes.com, February 16, 2016.

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