he death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Sept. 18 immediately brought back memories of 2016, when Republicans blocked President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February, nearly nine months before the election.
History is close to repeating itself.
This time, it appears the ending will likely be different.
The GOP in 2016 argued that American people deserved to have a voice and that the next president, should pick the nominee.
President Obama nominated Garland on March 16, 2016 — one month after Scalia died.
Ginsburg died much closer to the Nov. 3 election — little more than six weeks before. But even as news of her death was being delivered nationwide, the Republicans were announcing their plans to move forward with a nominee.
Still now, those same Republicans who said we should wait four years ago are backing President Donald Trump’s push to nominate and confirm a justice in less than two months. On Tuesday, Sen. Mitt Romney said he would support the move.
The argument this time is the president is a Republican and the GOP controls the Senate. With the same party in the White House and holding the majority in the Senate — not the case four years ago — there is an obligation to get the nomination wrapped up before the Nov. 3 election.
Four years ago the reasoning was the nation was too close to an election to let a guy heading out the door make a lifetime appointment.
Here are what some Republicans said in 2016:
•Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president. Rarely does a Supreme Court vacancy occur in the final year of a presidential term. … Given that we are in the midst of the presidential election process, we believe that the American people should seize the opportunity to weigh in.”
•Sen. Lindsey Graham: “I want you to use my words against me: If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey O. Graham said, ‘Let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination. And you could use my words against me, and you’d be absolutely right.”
•Sen. Marco Rubio: “I don’t think we should be moving forward on a nominee in the last year of this president’s term. I would say that if it was a Republican president.”
All three now support President Trump’s pursuit of a quick confirmation, because, well, what they said before mattered only then.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) has so far remained silent since releasing an initial statement of condolence.
Here’s what Toomey said four years ago:
“The vacancy left by Justice Scalia’s passing will not be filled until after the American people weigh in and select a new president. I believe that is the best approach for deciding whether to alter the balance of the Supreme Court.”
We are still waiting to hear what he says now.
We believe the American voters should again have the final say as they did four years ago.
We believe that the Senate should treat any President Trump nominee the same way it did President Obama’s nominee.
We believe the Senate should follow its own precedent and not act on any nomination this close to the next presidential election.
Judging by what’s been said publicly thus far, we also believe that is not likely to happen. And that will be nothing short of hypocritical. — The (Sunbury) Daily Item
CNHI News Service