The Republican leader of the Senate invented the McConnell Rule to steal a Supreme Court seat, and now he plans to break it to seize another.
Trump says he plans to ram through a Supreme Court nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement Wednesday, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stands ready to help him.
“The Senate stands ready to fulfill its constitutional role by offering advice and consent on President Trump’s nominee to fill this vacancy,” McConnell said from the floor of the Senate. “We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy’s successor this fall.”
There’s just one problem with that plan: It violates the McConnell Rule that Supreme Court seats cannot be filled close to an election.
When Justice Antonin Scalia passed away in 2016, McConnell refused to even hold confirmation hearings for President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. He and the Republicans justified their obstruction by insisting that some non-existent rule prohibited twice-elected presidents from filling a court vacancy in an election year.
President Obama nominated Garland 237 days prior to the 2016 election. Kennedy’s vacancy comes just 132 days before Election Day 2018.
That means, if McConnell follows through with his threat to fill the seat this fall, he will be in violation of his own rule.
The hypocrisy has not gone unnoticed by Democrats, who immediately began calling on Republicans to honor their own rule.
“Millions of people are just months away from determining the senators who should vote to confirm or reject the president’s nominee, and their voices deserve to be heard now, as Leader McConnell thought they deserved to be heard then,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “Anything but that would be the absolute height of hypocrisy.”
“Mitch McConnell should follow the Mitch McConnell rule,” said Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Twitter. “Let the American people have a say when women’s health and equal rights are on the line.”
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said any nominee should not be considered until after the new Senate is seated next January.
Republicans invented a rule to steal a Supreme Court seat. Now they want to break their own rule to rig the court even further.