LOS ANGELES – In 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to allow a vote to confirm a nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away in February of that year, arguing that the “American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice.”
This month, however, McConnell announced that Donald Trump’s nominee to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg would receive a vote on the U.S. Senate floor in what would be a rapid review and confirmation without precedent.
Please attribute the following statement regarding the Senate leader’s rush to act to confirm an inadequately vetted nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court to Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund).
“‘Shamelessly desperate’ or ‘desperately shameless’. These are the appropriate terms to describe the McConnell plan to skew the United States Supreme Court by rushing a Trump nominee through the constitutionally required advice and consent of the Senate. There are three head-spinning aspects of this plan that bespeak its utter shamelessness and desperation, and that demonstrate the harm to our government and nation from this ill-conceived rush to confirm:
“First, the hypocrisy is obvious and undeniable. When Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016, McConnell stonewalled President Barack Obama’s carefully-selected nominee for nearly a year to ensure that a new president could choose the next justice. Now, a mere four years later, he has changed the rules. His belated assertion that the situation is different because the same party now controls the White House and the Senate is simply laughable. He is effectively confessing that his actions in both circumstances were driven solely by his commitment to partisan power grab over constitutional process. Yet, McConnell apparently thinks voters are so stupid that they won’t see through his crass motivations.
“Second, the McConnell plan is an astounding public admission that he expects Trump and his party to lose in November. The simple fact is that someone confident of electoral victory – or even simply interested in projecting confidence regardless of anticipated outcome – would never resort to the cynical hypocrisy of the McConnell plan. Instead, someone confident of electoral victory would secure that victory, then move forward with a properly-reviewed nominee. In an age when all politicians seem to believe that appearance is as important as reality, McConnell’s transparent confession that he expects to lose in November is extraordinary.
“Third, the McConnell plan undermines the legitimacy of the nominee and of the United States Supreme Court. Any nominee confirmed under McConnell’s proposed accelerated schedule would, throughout her tenure, be viewed with suspicion and disdain. Agreeing to accept a nomination under these circumstances would immediately raise questions about personal ambition overriding principle, about partisan politics overwhelming democratic norm. Such philosophical issues have proven detrimental to Supreme Court nominees in the past, and the McConnell plan would place another eternally suspect justice on the Court. This would in turn reduce public confidence in Court process and outcome in many areas where the Court is required to be involved. The McConnell plan sacrifices critical institutional legitimacy to political expediency.”