I have to admit that this announcement came as a bit of a pleasant surprise.
As speculation swirls over whom President Obama could nominate to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, the White House is ruling out the possibility of an appointment while the Senate is out of town.
“Given that the Senate is currently in recess, we don’t expect the President to rush this through this week, but instead will do so in due time once the Senate returns from their recess,” White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz told ABC News. “At that point, we expect the Senate to consider that nominee, consistent with their responsibilities laid out in the United States Constitution.”
The Senate is in recess, and given Obama’s history of bypassing the Senate when it is inconvenient, I would not have been surprised in the least if he had acted to install a replacement justice via recess appointment. In fact, many in the GOP had the same thought. For instance, this via FoxNews:
This is a true recess and an opportunity for the president should he elect to take it — considering the political realities of the Senate and the position of its majority leader to potentially make a recess appointment.
Keep in mind that this window will close later this month. Then GOP-led House and Senate can effectively block the president with another recess appointment gambit in the future by agreeing to meet every three days, even if members aren’t really here.
But obviously nobody anticipated Scalia’s death.
Thus, the president could in fact take advantage of this rare opportunity because he won’t get it again after February 22/23 if McConnell sticks to his guns.
And the Washington Examiner:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed not to confirm a successor to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, but some Republicans worry that President Obama could install a replacement anyway.
“We’re in recess, so Obama can, in theory, appoint someone,” a senior GOP aide told the Washington Examiner. “He could appoint [Vice President Joe] Biden tonight if he wanted to.”
“It’s a live threat,” the aide said.
Given Obama’s propensity to troll the GOP as a matter of policy, it is sort of surprising that he didn’t pick some left wing ideologue, ideally a homosexual red-haired left-handed Spanish-speaking Eskimo, that has already been approved by Mitch McConnell’s Senate and elevate them. This would have allowed him to troll the GOP for their opposition to a racial, ethnic, linguistic and sexual minority all the while pointing out that the GOP had already confirmed the person once before.