Diary

The Historical Black Hole on the NYT Op-Ed Page

Here are the first few paragraphs of today’s latest from the New York Times relating to the current composition of the Supreme Court.

Remember when the Senate confirmed Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, the veteran federal appeals court judge, to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly two years ago this month? It was a brilliant tactical move by Mr. Obama — picking a moderate, widely respected jurist who had won the highest praise from top Republicans, and giving the court a majority of Democratic-appointed justices for the first time in nearly half a century.

Oh, right. That’s not what happened.

Let’s pause to recall once again what did happen: Justice Scalia’s body wasn’t even in the ground before Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said he would refuse to consider any nominee President Obama might put forward. The reason, he claimed, was the importance of letting Americans “have a voice in the selection” by voting in the presidential election, which at the time was nine months off. It was his coded way of saying he intended to preserve the court’s Republican-appointed majority at any cost.

McConnell’s decision to block Garland didn’t happen in a vaccuum. There was not one mention of Harry Reid and his 2013 decision to trigger the nuclear option, which stripped out the minority party’s use of the filibuster for all presidential appointees, Supreme Court excepted. It’s as if Harry Reid’s act went into a historical black hole. It’s hard to know whether McConnell would have stalled the Garland vote had Reid not pulled that trigger (personally I doubt it), but McConnell’s choice was a direct result of Reid’s stupid and short-sighted hyperpartisanship. And now Democrats basically can’t do a doggone thing with Trump’s appointees and judicial nominees.

It’s also as if the Democrats in the Senate were unaware that their partisan decisions can have partisan consequences, thanks in part to NYT pundits who supported Reid’s blatant stupidity. It makes me wonder why they even wrote their little bitchfest, but I’m guessing that, with all the pushback from their liberal staff, they needed to get back to their traditional roots of bashing conservatives and ignoring their own hypocrisy.