Mitch McConnell once again confirmed the obvious on Tuesday: That he is, and always has been, totally full of shit.
While speaking at a Paducah Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Kentucky, the Senate majority leader was asked for his position on confirming a new Supreme Court justice should a sitting justice die in 2020, a presidential election year.
McConnell took a long sip of his beverage, smiled and replied, “Oh, we’d fill it.”
The audience burst into laughter.
"Oh, we'd fill it." pic.twitter.com/ymTj44ZPBr
— David Rutz (@DavidRutz) May 29, 2019
The question was asked because of the role McConnell played in stonewalling the confirmation of Merrick Garland, whom President Obama nominated to fill the seat left vacant after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016. Though the Constitution stipulates that the president nominate new Supreme Court justices, McConnell refused to give Garland a confirmation hearing, arguing that the Senate should wait until a new president was elected later that year. “The American people are perfectly capable of having their say on this issue, so let’s give them a voice,” he said that March. “Let’s let the American people decide. The Senate will appropriately revisit the matter when it considers the qualifications of the nominee the next president nominates, whoever that might be.”
One of President Trump’s first actions in office was nominating the conservative Neil Gorsuch to fill the seat, which had been vacant for almost a year. He was swiftly confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate.
It was clear in 2016 that McConnell wasn’t defying the Constitution because of some righteous conviction that the American people deserved to determine who would fill the seat by voting in the 2016 election (they already did that when they voted in 2012). He just didn’t want Obama to be able to fill the seat, and this was the best excuse he could come up with to block the nomination.
The excuse changed last October after he had time to process that a justice could die in 2020. In an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, McConnell said the issue was actually about the Senate being controlled by the party that opposes the president, as was the case in 2016 but would not be in 2020. “You have to go back to 1880 to find the last time a vacancy created in a presidential election year on the Supreme Court was confirmed by a Senate of a different party than the president,” he said. “What I did was entirely consistent with what the history of the Senate’s been in that situation going back to 1880.”
But as the New York Times pointed out last year, outside of 2016, there has only been one occasion since the beginning of the 20th Century in which a seat became vacant in a presidential election year when the government was divided. That came in 1956, when the Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, elevated a Democrat, William Brennan, to fill a vacant seat as a recess appointment just weeks before the presidential election. Brennan was officially confirmed after the election.
In other words, once again, McConnell is full of shit.
After McConnell’s comments on Tuesday, Democrats enthusiastically took to Twitter to point out his hypocrisy. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) even fashioned a cute little graphic out of punctuation marks.
| Senator McConnell. |
| is a |
| hypocrite. |
| ＿＿＿＿＿_＿＿＿_ |
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) May 29, 2019
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) May 29, 2019
But scouring the history books to prove McConnell is a hypocrite or tweeting memes is pointless. Of course he is a hypocrite. Of course he wasn’t acting in good faith. Of course he is a soulless opportunist who is so obsessed with sticking it to Democrats that he has completely disassociated himself from the oath he swore to uphold when he entered the Senate over 30 years ago. None of this is news, and as the left points the finger and says “gotcha,” McConnell will continue to sip his iced tea and smile. He’ll do the same when the Senate rushes to confirm another conservative should a sitting justice die in 2020.