Senator John Barrasso isn’t one of the Senate’s bomb-throwers. He rarely makes headlines. One thing is certain, though – he is ready to put another conservative on the Supreme Court. As Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell works to secure enough Republican yeas on moving forward with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s successor, count Barrasso in.
Barrasso, Chairman of the Senate GOP Conference, says Trump may as well go ahead and make his nomination so the process moves forward now because if the Democrats take back control of the Senate, they plan to blow it up anyway. He also addressed the Biden Rule. I wrote about the Biden Rule last weekend and how Joe Biden has flip-flopped on the issue. He was for it before he was against it before he was for it, and so forth.
Senate GOP Conference Chairman John Barrasso called on President Trump and his Senate colleagues to summarily move forward on a nominee to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, warning that whether or not they do so, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and his Democratic caucus will “blow up the Senate” if they take power in 2021.
Barrasso, R-Wyo., noted on “Fox News @ Night” that when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., balked at scheduling a hearing for President Obama’s 2016 SCOTUS nominee, D.C. Circuit Judge Merrick B. Garland, it was on account of “the Biden Rule.”
Senator Barrasso made his remarks Sunday on FNC during the “Fox News @ Night” special. Before Barrasso, Democrat Senator Ben Cardin spoke about the Democrats’ point of view. Barrasso called him out for not having the nerve to state what the Democrat agenda will be if they take back the Senate. Their agenda has been exposed because of Ginsburg’s death but it has been floated since the Kavanaugh hearings. They plan to end the filibuster in the Senate and to move forward on stacking the Supreme Court. Conservative voters should take them at their word and vote accordingly.
“The one question Senator [Benjamin] Cardin[, D-Md.,] wouldn’t answer [in the previous block] was what’s Chuck Schumer going to do. Let me be clear – he continued – if the Democrats win the White House and the Senate and have the House, they will change the rules and they will blow up the Senate.”
“They have an entire war room working on this and they will expand the number of members of Supreme Court regardless of what the Republicans and President Trump do,” the Wyoming Republican added.
There is no reason to doubt what the Democrats will do, given the opportunity. The message from Chuck Schumer and other Democrats is that nothing is off the table if Trump and McConnell move forward. They will retaliate against President Trump and the Senate Majority Leader if they do their constitutional duty. Barrasso points out that Democrats also want to “stack the Senate” by making Washington, D.C. a state, thus bring along two more Democrat senators.
Cardin and other Democrats are trying to make the case that historically speaking, the seat should not be filled. Democrats love to use Lincoln, the first Republican president, as an example to push their ideology. Invoking Lincoln’s name, however, doesn’t make their arguments correct.
During the prior interview, Cardin noted, however, that the last time a Supreme Court vacancy occurred this close to a presidential election was 156 years ago.
That year, Chief Justice Roger Taney of Maryland – who led the court during the infamous Dred Scott decision – died with 27 days to go before President Lincoln’s reelection bid in 1864.
Lincoln, once having won reelection, nominated his former Treasury secretary, ex-Sen. Salmon P. Chase, R-Ohio, who was confirmed as the next chief justice.
McConnell has pointed out to his colleagues that Democratic President Grover Cleveland was the last commander in chief to nominate a jurist during a state of divided government in an election year. That was in 1888. This year, the president and the Senate majority are held by the same party.
When the news broke of Ginsburg’s death, McConnell urged senators to “keep their powder dry” and not be hasty in voicing a commitment to vote or not vote before the election. So far, only Senator Collins of Maine and Senator Murkowski of Alaska have voiced their opposition to moving forward before the election, though neither have specifically said they would be a no vote if a vote was taken. To date, they sound like they would like it both ways. Collins is in a tough re-election battle and Murkowski doesn’t even identify as a Republican anymore. She ran as an Independent for her last re-election campaign. Senator Grassley, in the past, has made statements against voting on a Supreme Court nomination in an election year.
Over the weekend, three more senators came forward with siding with Leader McConnell. Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee (who is retiring), Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, and Senator Rob Portman of Ohio are yes votes.
On Sunday, McConnell (R-Ky.) won the support of Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who is retiring and was viewed as a potential swing vote as McConnell seeks to confirm Ginsburg‘s replacement as soon as possible.
“No one should be surprised that a Republican Senate majority would vote on a Republican president’s Supreme Court nomination, even during a presidential election year,” Alexander said in a statement. “The Constitution gives senators the power to do it. The voters who elected them expect it.”
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of McConnell’s leadership team, also backed the majority leader over the weekend, as did Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a moderate.
On Sunday, Joe Biden delivered a rambling, at times odd 15-minute speech about his thoughts on the subject. Of course he doesn’t want Trump to move forward, though in 2016 he was all-in on Garland’s nomination. Biden hasn’t even submitted his list of potential nominees if he wins the election, though Trump has done so. He said he wasn’t speaking to Trump or McConnell but to the Republican senators making their decisions on supporting moving forward or not. Biden laid it on thick for the handful of perhaps persuadable Republicans. Biden, as usual, took no questions from reporters.
“Please follow your conscience,” Biden said in a speech in Philadelphia. “Don’t vote to confirm anyone nominated under the circumstances President Trump and Senator McConnell have created. Don’t go there. Uphold your constitutional duty, your conscience, let the people speak. Cool the flames that have been engulfing our country. We can‘t ignore the cherished system of checks and balances.”
Democrats do not fully understand that any Republicans inclined to go along to get along before the Kavanaugh hearings no longer feel that way. Democrats were so over the top and hideous that there is no going back, certainly not in the foreseeable future. Republican voters will hold them accountable in November. In 2016, Ginsburg breached protocol and told the Senate to do its job. Something to remember the next time someone gets teary-eyed about her alleged last wish.