John L. Micek, 3/21/2016 [Archive]

My 10-Year-Old Acts More Like an Adult than Republicans

By John L. Micek

So what's the difference between Republicans in the U.S. Senate and my 10-year-old daughter?

It was the top members of the GOP-controlled chamber, and not my poised and polite child, who jammed their fingers in their ears and bellowed "ALALALALALALALALALA I CANNOT HEAR WHAT YOU ARE SAYING, BARACK OBAMA," when the Leader of the Free World announced his choice to fill the late Antonin Scalia's Supreme Court seat last week.

It started at the top, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who remained myopically on message: Obama's nominee, federal appellate Judge Merrick Garland, would not get so much as a hearing.

Period.

"The next justice could fundamentally alter the direction of the Supreme Court and have a profound impact on our country," McConnell said, according to The Washington Post, "So of course the American people should have a say in the Court's direction."

Never mind the fact that the American people have never had direct say over who gets appointed to the Supreme Court. Justices are appointed, not elected, for the specific purpose of keeping the court above politics.

Very adult.

And here's Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, whose panel would be responsible for putting Garland through his paces:

"Today the President has exercised his constitutional authority," Grassley said in a statement posted to his website. "A majority of the Senate has decided to fulfill its constitutional role of advice and consent by withholding support for the nomination during a presidential election year, with millions of votes having been cast in highly charged contests."

In short, Grassley's advice to the White House was: "See ya Obama, wouldn't want to be ya."

Again, very adult.

But they were paragons of restraint compared to Ted Cruz, who decorously pronounced that "Merrick Garland is exactly the type of Supreme Court nominee you get when you make deals in Washington, D.C."

"A so-called 'moderate' Democrat nominee is precisely the kind of deal that Donald Trump has told us he would make — someone who would rule along with other liberals on the bench like Justices Ginsburg and Sotomayor," he concluded.

It wasn't "You're ugly and your mother dresses you funny." But it was close.

The GOP's histrionics are particularly hilarious given that the Harvard-educated Garland is the kind consensus nominee who ordinarily would sail through the Senate, were it not for the fact that Republicans are in the midst of an election-year hissy fit.

As Slate's Dahlia Lithwick observes, Garland is "a careful writer, an infrequent dissenter, a true believer that judges interpret law and don't make it."

In any other year, McConnell, Grassley, et.al would be turning handsprings over that kind of nominee.

Instead they're engaging in the lamest kind of playground contortions to justify their decision not to even hold a hearing on his nomination.

McConnell and other Republicans have pointed to the words of Vice President Joe Biden, who, in 1992, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said chamber should refuse to fill a high court vacancy in "the full throes of an election year."

"Some will criticize such a decision and say that it was nothing more than an attempt to save a seat on the court in hopes that a Democrat will be permitted to fill it, but that would not be our intention," Biden said, according to The New York Times.

"It would be our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season is underway, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over," the now-Veep said.

But as The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart notes, Biden made his remarks in June of an election year, not February. And they came in the context of a hypothetical resignation, not the death of an actual sitting Justice.

But even if we were to follow McConnell's logic that American voters should metaphorically have their say - they already have.

Obama was the first president since 1956 to be elected and re-elected with more than 51 percent of the vote.

And at the time of Scalia's passing, Obama still had nearly a year left in his term. The next President will not take office until January 2017.

Even my 10-year-old can make that distinction. It's amazing -- or maybe just the height of cynicism -- that McConnell and his Republican colleagues cannot.

——

©Copyright 2016 John L. Micek, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

An award-winning political journalist, Micek is the Opinion Editor and Political Columnist for PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Readers may follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek and email him at jmicek@pennlive.com.

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