Republicans want you to forget about the stunt they pulled against Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the seat on the United States Supreme Court left vacant after the death of Antonin Scalia.
As a refresher, on February 13, 2016, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the court’s most conservative justices, died, leaving a vacancy on the court. Rather than allowing Barack Obama, who still had 11 months left in his presidency, appoint his replacement, Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, argued that there existed an informal rule against appointing a Supreme Court justice in a presidential election year, and refused to even allow hearings to be held for Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland, a moderate-leaning D.C. Circuit Court judge, to the Supreme Court.
On September 18, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court’s most liberal member, died from cancer. Ginsburg’s granddaughter has stated that, in her dying wish, Ginsburg had expressed a desire not to have her replacement appointed until the next presidential term.
Mere hours after she died, Mitch McConnell declared that there would be hearings for Trump’s nominee to replace Ginsburg. This, despite a presidential election being a mere 47 days away, and there being only 3 months left in Trump’s elected term (eight less months than Obama had left when McConnell and his Senate Republicans refused to hold hearings for his nominee).
Many Republican Senators are on record from four years ago as having declared that they would not consider a Supreme Court appointment in a presidential election year. They insisted that this was a rule, a principle, and denied it having anything to do with Barack Obama being a Democrat. Now that Ginsburg has died, it seems that they want you to forget they ever said any of it.
One way I've heard some Republican supporters try to rationalize this hypocrisy is arguing that the fact that the Senate and the President were of opposing parties at the time of Scalia’s death, as opposed to now where they are of the same party, is a distinction between the vacancy; two vacancies that justifies different treatment. This is not how rules work. In sports, referees are not supposed to judge penalties and award points differently depending on which team commits them. A senate majority that plays by a different set of rules depending on which party nominates a justice is devoid of actual principle, and instead acting upon partisan hackery.
Some Republican supporters have argued that Senate Republicans need to fill the seat as soon as possible due to the need for a full court if the election ends up seeing litigation before the Supreme Court. Yet these same Republican supporters voiced no such concerns about the Republicans leaving a vacancy on the Supreme Court through the 2016 election.
I urge you to not reward Republicans for pulling this sort of dishonesty and hackery. Demonstrate that this sort of behavior will not go unpunished by voters. Vote against them this November. Get involved, and volunteer for Democratic campaigns.