Monday, February 22, 2016

The right’s SCOTUS unreality: Republicans are justifying obstructionism by just making stuff up

Having made the decision to block any attempt to fill the late Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court seat, Republicans and conservatives have set about figuring out ways to retroactively justify that position. It’s a difficult task, given the politically fraught nature of such unyielding obstructionism, but they have an interest in maintaining the illusion that their opposition is rooted in some sort of principle and is not just an expression of lust for political power. The problem they encounter is that there is no actual principle that justifies blocking a Supreme Court nominee for nearly a year and denying them so much as a confirmation hearing. To get around this hurdle, they appear to have settled on a novel tactic: They’re just going to make stuff up.

Not surprisingly, much of this nonsense is coming from Senate Republicans themselves. Senate Judiciary Committee member Orrin Hatch, who served up an astonishingly weak rationale for punting any Supreme Court nominations to the next president, went on Hugh Hewitt’s radio program last week and conjured the recently liberated spirit of Scalia himself to argue against confirming a new justice this year. “He knows that the Court can function with eight members,” Hatch said, speaking for the deceased justice. That’s a perfectly accurate statement of fact, but it’s not really responsive to the issue at hand. And, as BuzzFeed pointed out, the last time Hatch communed with the ghost of a recently departed Supreme Court justice – that of William Rehnquist in 2005 – he said that the message from the spirit world was for the president – then George W. Bush, a Republican – to move as quickly as possible to fill out the court’s depleted ranks. “He [Rehnquist] certainly would not want to take any – would not want us to take any action that would not have as full a complement of the court sitting the first Monday of October that we can put there,” Hatch said. 

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