New Polls Signal Bad News for Battleground Senators in SCOTUS Fight

A quartet of new polls from Public Policy Polling show that the fight between the White House and Senate Republicans over filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court could have devastating consequences for some vulnerable Senators in November. A strong majority of respondents in New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin agreed that the Senate should, at the very least, consider President Obama's nominee for the seat.

Furthermore, refusing to confirm a new Supreme Court Justice would make most respondents in each state LESS likely to vote for their respective incumbent Senators in 2016. For Kelly Ayotte, Rob Portman, Pat Toomey, and Ron Johnson, Republican Senators in purple states, this is obviously very bad news.

But the bleeding doesn't stop there. PPP also measured the approval of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnnell, who has been the champion of this SCOTUS obstruction since just 2 hours after Justice Scalia's passing was announced. The results? Not good: In New Hampshire, Ohio, and Wisconsin, McConnell's approval rating is just 14% -- in Pennsylvania it's actually worse at 13%.

Ayotte, Portman, Toomey, and Johnson were all very quick to embrace and amplify the Senate Majority Leader's staunch position. It is yet to be seen how endorsing Constitutional ignorance will impact them on election day, but if these numbers stick, it will hurt way more than it helps.

View the polling results memos from Public Policy Polling's Tom Jensen here: OH/PA and NH/WI

02.24.16 | permalink

Ed Board Round-Up: Do Your Job Senate GOP

It took only a couple hours for the death of a sitting Supreme Court Justice to become a political volleyball, spiked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's declaration that the "vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president."

Maybe Mitch McConnell isn't totally aware of the Presidential and Senatorial duties laid out in the Constitution. Maybe he doesn't know how long a presidential term is. (Here, Mitch, we have a video that explains the whole thing!)

But Editorial Boards from across the country know how it works, and they're pissed. Here's what America is saying about Senate Republicans' deliberate obstruction of process on Supreme Court nominees:

Miami Herald: Sen. Mitch McConnell's act of contempt

There is no point in decrying the politicization of the judicial system in recent times. That ship sailed long ago. But it's one thing for lawmakers explicitly tasked by the Constitution to offer "advice and consent" to nominees for "judges of the Supreme Court" (Art. II, Sec. 2) to decide against someone for any reason, or none at all - and quite another to say they're not disposed to consider anyone named by the sitting president.

Madison Cap Times: Ron Johnson and GOP Candidates assault the Constitution

Yet Republican senators responded to the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia by proposing to shred not just the Constitution but precedents that date from the earliest years of the American experiment.
That would leave a vital position vacant for a year, which is absurd.

Of course, there is no notion too absurd for Johnson, who quickly echoed his boss. 

NJ Star-Ledger: Republicans shouldn't play chicken with SCOTUS seat

This tramples on the Constitution that Antonin Scalia - the conservative diety who died Saturday - lived to defend. It also shows that GOP Senators, who have turned obstructionism into a dark art, would rather rewrite that Constitution than affirm their oath to uphold it.

Concord Monitor: In high court fight, Ayotte is just wrong

Ayotte's hastily issued statement, echoing what is now her party's line, says no decision should be made until the people speak by voting in November. But the people had their say when they re-elected Obama and when, in this case, they voted for Ayotte. She is not expresing the will of her constituents but the will of her party.

Philly Inquirer: Antonin Scalia and the limits of ideology

Rejecting or ignoring a qualified nominee would be much more difficult and potentially embarrassing to the Senate than claiming that some time-honored maxim won't allow it to fulfill its constitutional obligation until next year.

Chicago Sun-Times: Support Supreme Court hearings, Sen. Kirk

There are times in politics when, no matter what you decide, you're going to get hammered. For Kirk, this is one of those times. He might just as well be a statesman.

WV Register-Herald: Playing games with court vacancy

Thank you, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for once again confirming our worst fears about politics in our country. Your hypocrisy and cynicism know no retreat. But we would remind you, Senator, that the American people did have a voice. Twice.

Seattle Times: U.S. Senate needs to do its job on Supreme Court nomination

Thomas Jefferson and Scalia would've snapped their foreheads at the "delay, delay, delay" tactic endorsed by the leading GOP nominee for president, Donald Trump - which is itself a head-slapper of a phrase.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinal: President Barack Obama, Senate should do their duty

As much as Republicans may wish it were not so, the Constitution still says that presidents serve four years - not three - and it remains silent on when a president becomes a "lame duck."

Greensboro News & Record: Supreme opposition

Someone could just as credibly argue that Burr, who's running for re-election this year, should leave important votes to whomever the people of North Carolina choose for his seat in November. But that's absurd. Burr was elected to a full term; so was Obama.

Minneapolis Star Tribune: Both Obama, Senate must do their duty in filling Scalia's seat

McConnell knows well that presidents can and do make appointments in their final year. He voted for one in 1988, when he joined with a Democratic Senate to confirm Anthony Kennedy in President Reagan's last year in office.

Omaha World-Herald: Constitution sets the process

Originalism is a sprawling set of legal theories with all kinds of ramifications that should be considered carefully. But one need not embrace the theory to understand the Constitution's succinct and straightforward language about filling Supreme Court vacancies.

Fargo InForum: Get moving on high court nominee

Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution is clear:

"... and he shall nominate, and by the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint... Judges of the supreme Court..."

Shall nominate. Shall appoint.


02.17.16 | permalink

Yo, Mitch McConnell - Care to explain?

Via The Washington Post's Paul Waldman, this 1970 law review article by future Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has some very strong opinions about how the Senate should handle confirming nominees for the Supreme Court:

Here's the relevant section (emphasis Paul's)

What standard then can be drawn for the Senate from the experiences of the past year in advising and consenting to Presidential nominations to the Supreme Court? They have been set out above but should be reiterated in conclusion. At the outset, the Senate should discount the philosophy of the nominee. In our politically centrist society, it is highly unlikely that any Executive would nominate a man of such extreme views of the right of the left as to be disturbing to the Senate. However, a nomination, for example, of a Communist or a member of the American Nazi Parly, would have to be considered an exception to the recommendation that the Senate leave ideological considerations to the discretion of the Executive. Political and philosophical considerations were often a factor in the nineteenth century and arguably in the Parker, Haynsworth and Carswell cases also, but this is not proper and tends to degrade the Court and dilute the constitutionally proper authority of the Executive in this area. The President is presumably elected by the people to carry out a program and altering the ideological directions of the Supreme Court would seem to be a perfectly legitimate part of a Presidential platform. To that end, the Constitution gives to him the power to nominate. As mentioned earlier, if the power to nominate had been given to the Senate, as was considered during the debates at the Constitutional Convention, then it would be proper for the Senate to consider political philosophy. The proper role of the Senate is to advise and consent to the particular nomination, and thus, as the Constitution puts it, "to appoint."

This would obviously fly right in the face of McConnell's remarks on Saturday immediately following the news of the tragic passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, where he said "this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president."

Top image via Getty

02.15.16 | permalink

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