I’m still a bit stunned at the news that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has died. The comment has flitted across my computer screen that this is the worst thing that could happen to the United States, right now. That’s a huge overstatement, but I might go so far as to suggest that (given my worldview) the death of no other single public figure could do more harm in the world at this precise moment.
Given the degree to which the country is divided — particularly between the general public and the political (including media) elites — everybody has already rushed to pull the tug-of-war rope tight over appointment of a successor. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (of Kentucky) has stated that the Senate will not confirm any nomination from President Barack Obama, leading Glenn Thrush of the left-wing Democrat-favoring publication Politico to tweet a “wow,” writing that McConnell is “rejecting a president’s right to nominate a SCOTUS justice.”
That’s baloney. McConnell is actually asserting the Senate’s right to offer advice and consent on a SCOTUS justice. Presidents who want the Senate to work with them on such matters should avoid being as divisive as Obama has been. They should also avoid taking so many unconstitutional actions around Congress and the rule of law. They should also avoid passing major legislation on party line votes. They should also suggest that Senate Majority Leaders of their own party should not wave away long-standing rules of their chamber as deposed Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada) did for judicial appointments a short while ago.
No doubt, President Obama has relished the degree to which he’s pushed the Republicans in Congress into a corner by pitting their Washington-elite sensibilities against their Washington-hating base. Here, too, he’ll be reaping the rewards if the Senate holds the Supreme Court seat open for the next president. If the Republican Senate confirms another Obama nominee — especially to replace the very conservative Scalia — the 2016 election may very well blow up, and if they confirm one between the election and the swearing in of the next president, they may very well incite a revolution.