McConnell: No more Obama judicial confirmations?

posted at 2:01 pm on June 5, 2015 by Ed Morrissey

That’s not quite what Mitch McConnell proposes here in his interview last night with Hugh Hewitt, but functionally it will likely amount to the same thing. Hugh wants an end to judicial confirmations as a payback for Harry Reid’s “nuclear option” last session in removing filibusters from the process, and asks whether McConnell will follow through on it. McConnell tells Hugh that the Senate has only confirmed those judges Barack Obama has appointed that pass muster with the Republican caucus, and that’s how he sees the rest of the session going:

HH: And my last question goes to judicial nominations. I am one of those people who wouldn’t confirm another judge given the antics they pulled last year. But what is the situation vis-à-vis federal judicial nominations and the process in the Senate right now?

MM: Well, so far, the only judges we’ve confirmed have been federal district judges that have been signed off on by Republican Senators.

HH: And so you expect that that will continue to be the case for the balance of this session?

MM: I think that’s highly likely, yeah.

In other words, McConnell leaves the door open for Obama to nominate judges that the Republican majority find acceptable. It’s a formula that arguably enforces the “advice” part of “advice and consent” in the Constitution (Article II, Section 2), but with the operational wrinkle that flexes McConnell’s muscle. Normally, a President would have some leeway to gain majority approval from the Senate as a whole, but the attempt to derail minority input in the last session means McConnell wants to play hardball in this session, especially after Obama and Reid used it to pack the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

So, McConnell will continue to advance judicial nominations to the floor for appointments that Republicans like. Those that Republicans find unacceptable won’t get to the floor, and likely won’t come out of committee. That’s an escalation of a different kind than Reid’s, but certainly in kind with the nuclear option.

Obama could respond by working with McConnell on a list of mutually acceptable jurists to fill open slots, but when has Obama responded by working with his opponents? Unfortunately, that’s Obama’s only real option/ Other than putting pressure on McConnell, Obama can’t do much about it either, especially since the courts severely restricted the recess-appointment power Obama also abused. McConnell knows getting tough on this after Reid’s stunt last year won’t lose Republicans any votes from the base, and probably won’t be important enough to lose any independents in 2016 either.

The big question will come if and when an opening on the Supreme Court occurs. That will bring enormous scrutiny on the process. Will McConnell demand that Obama work with the GOP to find a compromise candidate, and would Obama submit to that kind of process? We’ll see what happens when that game of chicken begins, but at this point it would be surprising to see any of the justices retire willingly while this stalemate exists.


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Comments

anybody left around here that trusts McConnell?

DanMan on June 5, 2015 at 2:06 PM

In other words, McConnell leaves the door open for Obama to nominate judges that the Republican majority find acceptable.

I’m not the brightest bulb on the tree, but isn’t that exactly what “Advice and Consent” of the Senate means?

Or does Saggy Face think he’s stumbled onto something new?

BobMbx on June 5, 2015 at 2:09 PM

Three hundred and fifteen million and THIS is what we have speaking for us?

Cheese Wheel on June 5, 2015 at 2:10 PM

In other words, if Obama sweetens the pot enough, McConnell will find the votes.

Neitherleftorright on June 5, 2015 at 2:11 PM

but the attempt to derail minority input in the last session means McConnell wants to play hardball in this session,

Does McConnell read HotGas?

I suggested the same thing well before they came into majority.

But like then, as now, I have no faith in him following through.

nobar on June 5, 2015 at 2:12 PM

I don’t trust anyone who’s principles are for sale.

meci on June 5, 2015 at 2:13 PM

Even if McConnell doesn’t cave on his own volition – and you know the chance of that – Obama always has an option of nominating activist black and Latino females and demagogue the hell out of the Repubs.

Rix on June 5, 2015 at 2:14 PM

MM: Well, so far, the only judges we’ve confirmed have been federal district judges that have been signed off on by Republican Senators.

CW: This doesn’t mean shit anymore, sell outs.

Cheese Wheel on June 5, 2015 at 2:14 PM

Sure, Mr. Turtle. Whatever you say.

Aizen on June 5, 2015 at 2:15 PM

Listen to him Obama or he will make his angry face.

Pegcity on June 5, 2015 at 2:19 PM

…McConnell wants to play hardball

Said seriously by no one ever.

tominsd on June 5, 2015 at 2:22 PM

Who would ever trust a turtle?

petefrt on June 5, 2015 at 2:25 PM

something funny from the tree house…

http://theconservativetreehouse.com/

its a video of what Ferguson police are dealing with now. 18 solid minutes of a pair of black Yosemite Sams cussing all the way to jail

DanMan on June 5, 2015 at 2:27 PM

This soft shell turtle would put Snowden on the SCOTUS.

vnvet on June 5, 2015 at 2:32 PM

Ha ha ha. Yeah, he’d never cave.

gwelf on June 5, 2015 at 2:38 PM

In other words, if Obama sweetens the pot enough, McConnell will find the votes.

Neitherleftorright on June 5, 2015 at 2:11 PM

Yep. McConnell is for sale and openly advertising it. Perhaps Obama can give him another dam.

Doomberg on June 5, 2015 at 2:39 PM

the attempt to derail minority input in the last session means McConnell wants to play hardball in this session

Oh please…

Joseph K on June 5, 2015 at 2:48 PM

Nobody believes him. There are ALWAYS enough DIABLO votes to give the Democrats what they want and make it officially “bipartisan”.

It is not “too little, too late”. It is “nothing, long after the ship has sailed”.

Subotai Bahadur on June 5, 2015 at 3:06 PM

Hey Hugh Hewett – How about them Cav’s last night? Gonna crush them paper-tiger Warriors, right?

I’ll trust McConnel as soon as he proves he’s NOT an invertebrate.

Missilengr on June 5, 2015 at 3:07 PM

We’ll see what happens when that game of chicken begins

In a game of chicken, always count on the gutless, feckless and chinless turtle to blink first.

Right Mover on June 5, 2015 at 3:17 PM

anybody left around here that trusts McConnell?

DanMan on June 5, 2015 at 2:06 PM

Not I.

They are also doing a Kabuki theater op on using the power of the purse (that they’ve already surrendered) to block Obaguncontrol. I don’t believe they won’t fold on that one either.

You see, we can’t shut down the government. Not one department. Not one bureaucratic office.

ConstantineXI on June 5, 2015 at 3:31 PM

Mr Turtle to talk tough, and then fold in 3…2…1…

What a talentless, collaborationist d**chebag.

orangemtl on June 5, 2015 at 4:02 PM

MM: Well, so far, the only judges we’ve confirmed have been federal district judges that have been signed off on by Republican Senators.

EM: In other words, McConnell leaves the door open for Obama to nominate judges that the Republican majority find acceptable.

To paraphrase the immortal Inigo Montoya, “I do not think that phrase means what you think it means.” McConnell’s reference to “Republican Senators” does not have the “majority of” qualification that EM reads into it. EM’s reading (and apparently what Hewitt took away) is not irrational, but another obvious reading is that “Republican Senators” merely means “more than one,” and confirmation of the most recent contested nomination, Loretta Lynch, would support the conclusion that “signed off on by Republican Senators” merely means enough Republican Senators must agree for the nominee to get a majority. As long as the likes of Graham, McCain, Kirk, Ayotte, Hatch, Flake, Portman, Cochran, Coates, and Johnson stalk the north wing of the Capitol, any Obama nominee is going to have enough Republican support to win approval.

Zumkopf on June 5, 2015 at 4:31 PM

On a related topic (holding the Republican caucus in line), I suggest that McConnell had better get himself a graduate degree (at least an honorary one) from the University of Maryland. Because at least in College Park, they imbue the phrase “Fear the Turtle” with real meaning.

Zumkopf on June 5, 2015 at 4:33 PM

At this point we do not gain anything by comprise.

burt on June 5, 2015 at 4:46 PM

The clock is running out for SCOTUS nominees. Without a vacancy this year, it is highly unlikely any nominee could be confirmed in a Presidential election year. And that is a situation Democrats made, going back to Reagan, so they have no right to complain.

There is a backlog of vacancies on the bench, though. Obama has been as incompetent in filling them as in everything else. Fortunately, he no longer has Reid to rush them through without vetting.

~~

The childish level of insults directed at Senator McConnell pretty clearly illustrates the low intelligence of those who whine about him. He is the most conservative Republican Senate Leader in history, yet the dummies who supported Christine O’Donnell dare insult him.

Adjoran on June 5, 2015 at 4:48 PM

I’m not the brightest bulb on the tree, but isn’t that exactly what “Advice and Consent” of the Senate means?

Or does Saggy Face think he’s stumbled onto something new?

BobMbx on June 5, 2015 at 2:09 PM

I’m pretty sure that Turtleface knows even less about the Constitution than weedisgood.

ConstantineXI on June 5, 2015 at 4:56 PM

I’ll believe McTurtle when I can pick up the Lincoln Monument and throw into the Capitol Building!

flytier on June 5, 2015 at 8:26 PM

When it’s time to confront, the old turtle feels his scrotum retracting . . . until . . . his head . . . disappears. . .

Younggod on June 6, 2015 at 4:02 AM

In short, now that he has already given away the farm on everything important, he’s ready to play kabuki with the unimportant stuff.

Wow, what an impressive display of principle.

GrumpyOldFart on June 6, 2015 at 8:18 AM

McConnell had a chance to block unfit candidates but instead forced the confirmation of the incompetent Loretta Lynch. What will it take to get rid of this time-waster?

virgo on June 7, 2015 at 11:41 AM