“Let The People Decide.”
That’s been Senator Chuck Grassley’s campaign slogan recently, in reference to his refusal to hold a hearing for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. They’ve even printed signs and t-shirts with it.
For months now Grassley has insisted that the next president should choose the nominee, not Obama. He’s argued Obama is essentially a lame-duck, especially because voters backed Republicans in such overwhelming numbers in 2014. He’s said the people must have a voice.
In an interview in a Mason City Globe Gazette article, Grassley left open the door for pursuing a lame-duck session confirmation of Garland, despite previously adamantly denying he would ever consider it. Here’s what they wrote:
“Grassley said the only way his stance could change is if a large number of senators strongly urged him to consider the nomination during a so-called ‘lame-duck session’ of Congress, during the time after the Nov. 8 election and before the new Congress takes office in January.”
This would be a massive departure from Grassley’s entire reasoning for the past seven months. It would also lay bare Grassley and Senate Republicans’ real motivation in all of this: pure politics. Plain and simple, they don’t want Obama to replace Antonin Scalia on the bench because there’s the off-chance Donald Trump will win in November, and therefore they’ll get a conservative justice instead.
But what has worried Democrats for some time now is that if Hillary Clinton emerges victorious, Republicans will quickly confirm Garland in the time remaining between her election and inauguration. The GOP would figure that Clinton – possibly with a Democratic Senate majority next year – would nominate someone much more liberal than the moderate Garland. So by swiftly approving Garland, despite opposing him all year, they would limit the impact slightly to the ideological lean of the Supreme Court.
Of course, that is also extremely cynical, gaming the basic functions of the government to eke out a small victory for your side. It would also destroy all remaining credibility people like Grassley have.
It’s also interesting the way Grassley apparently phrased it: if enough other Senators persuaded him, he might do a lame-duck session confirmation. That would mirror how he began his historic obstruction: by letting the most-radical obstructionist members of the Republican Party force his hand.
Let the people decide? Only when they decide the way Chuck Grassley wants them to, apparently.
by Pat Rynard