How interesting is it that the two most vocal politicians objecting to Republican opposition to a Supreme Court nomination both voted to filibuster an earlier one? Campaigning in Harlem yesterday, Hillary Clinton accused Senate Republicans of racism for announcing that they will not confirm any nominee to the Supreme Court in replacement of the late Antonin Scalia, who passed away on Saturday.
“The Republicans say they’ll reject anyone President Obama nominates no matter how qualified. Some are even saying he doesn’t have the right to nominate anyone, as if somehow he’s not the real president,” Clinton said during remarks at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, referring to the recent passing of Supreme Court JusticeAntonin Scalia.
“You know that’s in keeping what we heard all along, isn’t it?” she continued. “Many Republicans talk in coded racial language about takers and losers. They demonize President Obama and encourage the ugliest impulses of the paranoid fringe,” she continued. “This kind of hatred and bigotry has no place in our politics or our country.
Even MSNBC isn’t quite buying this argument, however. Hillary joined the same filibuster attempt as Barack Obama against George W. Bush’s nominee Samuel Alito, apparently not considering his choice legitimate either:
Hillary Clinton Gets Called Out on SCOTUS HypocrisyDear Democrats, you can’t hide from your hypocritical past on SCOTUS nominees — even you, Hillary Clinton! Here she is, in action, opposing Alito 10 years ago.
Posted by National Review on Tuesday, February 16, 2016
In fact, four of the participants in that ill-fated filibuster attempt have served in the Obama administration. There’s Obama himself, Vice President Joe Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and current Secretary of State John Kerry, who led the effort:
Arguing against cutting off debate, Sen. John Kerry — who spearheaded the filibuster effort with his fellow Massachusetts Democrat, Sen. Ted Kennedy — said Alito’s record during his 15 years on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has given “the extreme right wing unbelievable public cause for celebration.”
“That just about tells you what you need to know,” Kerry said. “The vote today is whether or not we will take a stand against ideological court-packing.” …
Among the 24 Democrats who supported the filibuster were five senators being mentioned as possible 2008 White House contenders — Kerry, who lost to Bush in 2004; Hillary Clinton of New York; Evan Bayh of Indiana; Russ Feingold of Wisconsin; and Joe Biden of Delaware.
The Senate’s top two Democrats, Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, also supported the Kerry-Kennedy filibuster effort.
The thought leaders on the Left had no problem with Senate obstruction when it came to blocking Republican nominees to the Supreme Court, and not just in 2006. The New York Times editorial board thought that Senate midterms overrode deference to presidential prerogative in 1987. When the shoe was on the other foot in the final 18 months of the Ronald Reagan presidency, the Paper of Record made it clear that the voter mandate that counted when it came to Supreme Court nominations was the sixth-year midterm, not the fourth-year re-election. Guy Benson dug up this gem from the NYT archives:
The President’s supporters insist vehemently that, having won the 1984 election, he has every right to try to change the Court’s direction. Yes, but the Democrats won the 1986 election, regaining control of the Senate, and they have every right to resist. This is not the same Senate that confirmed William Rehnquist as Chief Justice and Antonin Scalia as an associate justice last year.
And now, this is not the same Senate that confirmed Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor earlier in Obama’s term. People elected a Republican majority in the Senate, and according to NYT’s standards in 1987, that gives Republicans every right to resist. Now, if Obama wants to consult with Senate Republicans and pick someone who passes muster with this Senate majority, perhaps that could be arranged. Otherwise, the GOP will just play by the rules set by the Left and four current and former members of the Obama administration.