“I believe the overwhelming view of the Republican Conference in the Senate is that this nomination should not be filled, this vacancy should not be filled by this lame duck president.”
Those were the words of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in March 2016 when announcing he would refuse to allow the Senate to consider Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee to succeed the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. McConnell added that the “people should have a voice in the process.”
This opinion was echoed by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who said,
“The American people shouldn’t be denied a voice.”
Plenty of influential Republican elected officials piled-on: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Senate Judiciary Committee member John Cornyn, even Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) who was one of seven sitting Senators who voted to confirm Merrick Garland to his seat on the Court of Appeals in 1997.
The Republican Party was unanimous that a lame-duck official (despite President Obama having 9 months remaining in his term) should NOT be permitted to make an appointment that could have such a broad impact on citizens.
The people should speak!
Well, actually it would have been more accurate for them to say,
“Let’s try this again and hope the people speak differently.”
See, the people had already spoken. It was clear in the 2012 election that the winner of the race between incumbent Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney might get to replace Justice Kennedy, Justice Ginsburg, or Justice Scalia, who would all turn 80 during that winner’s term. Scalia would die at 79. So the voters HAD been given the opportunity to speak, knowing full well that one third of the Supreme Court could be in the next President’s hands. As President Obama had already appointed Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, the voice of the American voters spoke loudly that Barack Obama could be trusted to fill any vacancies which might arise, even if that resulted in his appoint a majority (5 of 9 seats) himself.
But Republicans defied that mandate, and as Donald Trump stole the 2016 Presidential election and along with it stole enough seats to maintain slim control of the Senate for Republicans, the will of the people was ignored.
Trump replaced Scalia and now Trump will replace Kennedy.
Sadly, the American voters cannot turn back the clock and undo the dastardly deeds shameless Republicans proudly claim as victories. The day in December 2016 when Congress (also conveniently controlled by Republicans) certified the 2016 election results, what was done was done. All voters could do was speak in a scream in 2018 and punish the offenders (at least the ones like Paul Ryan who were not retiring in disgrace).
Which bring up the current “no shame” scenario which could play out in Arizona over the next few months.
Incumbent Governor Doug Ducey appointed former Senator Jon Kyl to fill the seat left vacant by the death of John McCain last month. But Kyl has made it clear has no desire to fill the seat through the special election in 2020. Really, Kyl is there for ONE reason. He was the liaison shepherding Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court through the Senate. What better way to put the finishing touches on that shepherding process than by stepping-in to cast possibly the deciding vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation?
Effectively, the appointment of Jon Kyl to John McCain’s seat could allow a Senator who claims to be a moderate and who would face a huge backlash in 2020 for voting to confirm Kavanaugh, say…Susan Collins of Maine, to vote NO on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
As a bonus, Vice President Mike Pence could secure his claim on the 2024 Republican nomination (or, 2020 if President Trump declines to seek re-election) by making a media spectacle of his casting the tie-breaking vote to confirm a Justice who might take a seat as the most conservative Justice on the Court. Imagine the bump Pence would receive from the right if HE were the deciding vote on teh confirmation of a Justice which led to the overturning of Roe vs Wade?
Governor Ducey is facing a stiff re-election fight this November against Democrat David Garcia. ElectionProjection.com had Garcia favored yesterday, Ducey today, so the race is neck and neck. Democrat Kyrsten Sinema is leading Republican Martha McSally in the the Senate race to replace retiring Jeff Flake.
Let’s say the people speak LOUDLY in Arizona this November. Doug Ducey falls to David Garcia. Martha McSally falls to Kyrsten Sinema. The odds favor those outcomes.
The word going around is that, in a shocker, Republicans will again play hypocrites and try to rig the game.
Come 2019, once the current Senate session ends on January 3, Jon Kyl will lresign from the Senate. The Governor would then have the opportunity to name a replacement to serve through the special election in November 2020. This despite the Governor’s term ending in mere days.
If the Republican Party REALLY cared about the voice of the people, Doug Ducey would allow the seat to remain vacant (especially considering the Senate will not even be in session) and allow incoming Governor David Garcia to make that appointment.
After all, the people will clearly have spoken that they did NOT want that responsibility in Ducey’s hands.
But that is NOT the scenario being discussed. And it gets really gag-inducing in its hypocrisy and blatant ignorance of the will of the people.
Not only will outgoing Governor Doug Ducey appoint a new Senator to replace Jon Kyl (despite Ducey’s by-then lame duck status), he has a candidate at the top of his list for this appointment:
McSally would be fresh off a defeat at the hands of Kyrsten Sinema. So again, the people will have spoken loudly and clearly.
But Republicans only have principles, or hold lame ducks to a higher standard, when the shoe is on a Democrat’s foot.
The only other candidates I have heard being considered for appointment are Kelli Ward, who lost the 2016 Arizona Republican Senate primary to John McCain and the 2018 Arizona Republican Senate primary to Martha McSally…or Doug Ducey. Yes, the Governor could lick his wounds over losing his re-election race for Governor by appointing himself to the United States Senate.
The bottom line is, there is a very real possibility that a Governor roundly rejected by the people of Arizona could appoint to the United States Senate someone else roundly rejected by the people of Arizona. And if the make-up of the current Senate (51-49) holds into the next Senate, that rejected Senator, appointed by a rejected Governor, could be the 51st and deciding Senator casting votes on every nomination and appointment Donald Trump makes in the second half of his term.
These people have no shame. I would say all they care about is winning, but even that does not seem to matter as they will cheat or otherwise rig the game if the outcome goes against them. They prefer to win, sure, but they will make sure they get their way even in defeat.
The good people of Arizona, of America, must speak loudly once and for all…ENOUGH!