Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Chuck Grassley Not Ruling Out Judiciary Committee Hearings For Obama’s SCOTUS Nominee

by JASmius

This is what you call a grand bull moose gold medal-winner of garbledly mixed messaging.  Clearly, the Iowa senator was speaking off the cuff, not a 'prompter.  So I guess you can interpret his word salad any way you want to.  Which is never a good thing for a Republican to do.

Judge for yourself:

“I would wait until the nominee is made before I would make any decisions,” Grassley told reporters this morning. “In other words, take it a step at a time.”…

Punt.  Or "Why give the press any definitive answers until I have to?  It's in O's court right now."  Which, of course, presupposes that The One is going to take his sweet time in issuing his nomination of Scalia's replacement.  That could come, theoretically, as soon as tomorrow.

“This is a very serious position to fill and it should be filled and debated during the campaign and filled by either Hillary Clinton, Senator Sanders or whoever’s nominated by the Republicans,” Grassley said…

See what I mean by "word salad"?  "[The position] should be filled and debated during the campaign" says one thing, and "filled by either Hillary Clinton, Senator Sanders, or whoever's nominated by the Republicans" means something else entirely.  Which is it, Senator?

My guess is he meant to say "debated during the campaign" and "filled by [Obama's successor]".  But where does holding confirmation hearings fit on that continuum?  If Grassley starts the confirmation process by holding hearings - in essence, punting to and putting all the heat on Mitch McConnell to stick his infernal majesty's nominee in limbo, assuming s/he received an up vote in the Judiciary Committee (which, with Lindsey Graham on the roster, would only need one more defection), doesn't that create even bigger momentum to complete the process from the Dems and their media fellow-travelers?  Why get the ball rolling at all?  It's like getting "half-pregnant".  And besides, is anybody overly confident in Mitchie the Kid's iron will to stand astride the in-motion confirmation process with hand raised, drawling, "STOP!" when Red Barry's nominee would be careening politically toward him like a runaway freight train?

The Iowan did (hopefully) provide some reassuring clarification:

Grassley today said he is now embracing the “same spirit” advanced by a key Democrat eight years ago…

New York Senator Chuck Schumer said in 2007 that Democrats should not confirm any Bush nominee to the Supreme Court unless they “prove by actions not words that they are in the mainstream.” There were no Supreme Court openings in 2008. The last election-year vote in the senate came in 1988. President Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy in November of 1987 and he was confirmed in February of that election year.

Of course, eight years ago Grassley said about the same topic, “The reality is that the Senate has never stopped confirming judicial nominees during the last few months of a president’s term.”  Which means that Schumer is a hypocrite, and Grassley is trying to be one.  But can he actually follow through?

Again, who knows?  One reassuring theory of hearings being held in the near term is that the GOP can use them to "Bork" Obama's nominee.  Does anybody think that's very likely?  Especially if he chooses, say, Loretta Lynch?  Indeed, that's a strong argument for the White House picking a minority candidate.  Another consideration is that Senator Grassley himself is up for reelection this fall, in a presidential year (meaning, presumably, higher Democrat turnout) in a "purple" State at best.  Not holding confirmation hearings this year could be held against him by Iowa "swing" voters, and he might go ahead with hearings to avoid pissing them off.  On the other hand, if he did that, he'd piss off his own base even more.  Which means, I suppose, that he'd love to punt that Judiciary gavel to any of the other ten 'Pubbies on his Committee roster.

Senator - Chairman - Grassley would be well advised to re-read the pertinent passage of Article II, Section 2:

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate [i.e. the States], to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate [i.e. the States], shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law. [emphases added]

Constitutionally speaking, the Senate has veto power over any presidential appointment.  Which means that if Mitch McConnell and Chuck Grassley say that the next POTUS will pick Justice Scalia's successor, they're fully and legally entitled and authorized to do so, and there's (supposed to be) nothing King Hussein can do about it.

Of course we all know that if and when it comes down to it, Obama will install his choice on Olympus anyway, law and Constitution be damned.  But there's no reason that any Republican fingerprints have to be on that latest in a very long line of despotic, lawless acts.  Right, Chuck?

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