I mentally checked out of the GOP in 2005, which was the best I could do since Indiana doesn’t register voters by party. So I feel no keen interest in defending its wiles and works.
On the other hand, I’m not blind, and I care about the judiciary, not least the Supreme Court of the United States. And when some people suggested that Brett Kavanaugh suffered for Mitch McConnell’s sins toward Merrick Garland, I was pretty much dumbstruck, lacking any justifying argument (other than “we had the power,” which isn’t an argument at all) for not bringing Garland to a vote.
“Was” dumbstruck is now past tense. I stumbled onto a pretty good rationale today:
In 2013, Democrats had invoked the “nuclear option,” eliminating the filibuster for all federal judicial appointments except the Supreme Court — allowing them to pack the federal circuit courts with left-wing Obama appointees by simple majority. After Republicans won back control of the Senate in the 2014 midterms, McConnell put the brakes on the Democratic confirmation juggernaut — and then blocked President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who had died during Obama’s final year in office. Result? On Inauguration Day, Trump was presented with a slate of more than 100 judicial vacancies to fill, including a seat on the Supreme Court.
Democrats were so blinded by their anger over McConnell’s tactics that they made an unforced error: When Trump nominated Neil M. Gorsuch — a judge of unquestioned qualification and temperament — to fill Scalia’s seat, they decided to filibuster him. McConnell could not believe his luck. Some of his Republican colleagues had argued that, once in the majority, they should restore the judicial filibuster Democrats had eliminated — not extend it to Supreme Court nominations. But the Gorsuch filibuster changed their minds. “I argued to my people if this guy can’t get 60 votes then nobody a Republican president nominates is going to get 60 votes,” McConnell says. “That’s what allowed me to get people who were reluctant and complaining about using the nuclear option four years earlier to do it.”
Mark Thiessen, The tea party owes Mitch McConnell an apology. (Love that title!)
So Merrick Garland suffered for the Democrats’ packing of lower courts, led, as I recall, by Harry Reid.
You may now begin the Hatfield versus McCoy Infinite Resentment Regression if you like. It will cause me no more distress than I felt this morning before reading Thiessen’s column.
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