All in all, there are 52 bricks in the wall. At least that’s what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Hugh Hewitt this morning about the wall of opposition among Republicans in the upper chamber to any Supreme Court nominee from Barack Obama during his final year in office. Despite a barrage of attacks from Democrats and the media, McConnell says he’s not budging on #NoHearingsNoVotes, and neither is Chuck “Rock of Gibraltar” Grassley:
HH: Well, I like doing the morning. It’s a lot more fun to get ahead of the news rather than try and catch up with it. Let me ask you, Senator McConnell. There are breathless reports nearly every day of cracks in the wall against the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland. Do you see any cracks in that wall?
MM: I don’t see any. We had a couple of our members in blue states that have a contrary view, but there’s, you know, 52 others who are very comfortable with no hearings or no votes. And the reason for that is pretty clear. You’d have to go back 80 years to find the last time a vacancy on the Supreme Court occurred in the middle of a presidential year and was confirmed by the Senate. You’d have to go all the way back to 1888 with Grover Cleveland, a Democrat in the White House, to find the last time a Senate of the opposite party confirmed a nominee to a vacancy on the Supreme Court occurring in a presidential year. If that were not enough, Hugh, as I’m sure you’ve talked on your show repeatedly, Joe Biden when he was chairman of the Judiciary Committee in 1992, a presidential election year, said if a vacancy occurred, they wouldn’t fill it. Harry Reid said ten years ago that the Constitution didn’t require the Senate to even have a vote. And Chuck Schumer, the next Democrat leader, apparently, helpfully said in terms of this particular issue, 18 months before the end of Bush 43’s second term that had a vacancy occurred, they wouldn’t fill it. So look, we know if the shoe was on the other foot, this was a Republican president nominating someone to the Supreme Court for a vacancy occurring in a presidential year, a Democratic Senate wouldn’t act on it. And we’re not going to, either.
HH: So I am very justifiably proud about helping jump start #NoHearingsNoVotes. You believe there will be no hearings, and there will be no votes? You’re certain of that, Majority Leader McConnell?
MM: Yeah, there will be no hearings and no votes. And I did notice, Hugh, that you picked up on that very quickly. And I think it’s been very helpful, because the left is all in a stew. You know, they’re out there running ads and have paid people to show up at Chairman Grassley’s town hall meetings to try to harass him. But he’s been the Rock of Gibraltar. I think the American people understand that they ought to weigh in. We’re right in the middle of a presidential election. And we ought to hear from them as to who they want the next president to be before we fill this vacancy, not Barack Obama on the way out the door, the lamest of lame ducks, basically tipping the balance on the Supreme Court to the left for who knows how long, maybe the next quarter of a century. This is no small issue, and I assure you the Senate will not act on a nominee by Barack Obama.
Walls, rocks … the better analogy in this case might be netting. We have seen a lot of bending at times, but the line hasn’t broken — yet. And it hasn’t bent much at all where it really counts, which is with Grassley and McConnell. Grassley sets the agenda for the Judiciary Committee, so Garland doesn’t get hearings without Grassley’s approval for them. McConnell controls the floor of the Senate, so Garland doesn’t get a confirmation vote if McConnell doesn’t want one.
This is why majorities matter, especially in the Senate.
The attacks on Republicans have lasted for weeks, and crescendoed among Democrats and the media particularly during the two-week recess. The Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis reports that it’s been a flop:
The Democratic activists pushing for the confirmation of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee measure their efforts by the numbers: more than 400 newspaper editorials, several dozen live protests and 1.5 million petition signatures urging Republican senators to take up Merrick Garland’s nomination.
But this, too, can be measured: As of Monday, 52 senators oppose a hearing for Garland, let alone an up-or-down vote, before voters choose Obama’s successor in November.
The all-out Democratic advocacy blitz during the two-week recess ending Monday has produced no discernible impact in the arena that really matters: the Senate Republican caucus.
Only two of 54 Republican senators say they favor hearings. And two other senators who previously supported hearings reversed their positions under pressure from conservative activists, indicating that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has so far been extremely successful in holding together the Republican blockade.
Hey, all they’re doing is playing by the rules that Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer wanted when the SCOTUS shoe was on the other foot. Barack Obama had no compunction about blocking a floor vote when he supported the ill-fated filibuster against Samuel Alito’s confirmation. Where were the 400 newspaper editorials and petition signers at those times?