Mitch McConnell has dun goofed
I think Mitch McConnell has dun goofed. Although saying that they’ll block any appointment might be the right choice in the short term (like two weeks), Mitch didn’t think ahead about what the effect is going to be over the next 6 months.
Although in theory the GOP ‘establishment’ would want to be able to not confirm an Obama appointment, the side-effects of having an open seat on the Supreme Court are going to be devastating during the GOP nomination process as:
i) Each of the candidates are going to be asked for specific names of who they would nominate. As it is no longer a theoretical question, they will be in a position where they won’t be taken seriously if they refused to name a name.
And when they do name who they would nominate, Ted Cruz will find a more extreme person who he would nominate instead. I would not be surprised if within a month, one of the candidates is openly calling for a white supremacist to be appointed, to bring balance to the
force supreme court.
This isn’t going to be a problem for the Democratic candidates, as they can simply say that they don’t want to fuck up Obama’s choice, and refuse to name a name and instead say they will back whoever Obama nominates.
ii) Similarly all of the candidates are going to feel pressure to name the decisions they want overturned. Which again, means that they will try to out-do each other in naming those decisions that need to be overturned to ‘make America great again’. This takes the supreme court decisions out of theoretical discussions and into concrete items like “If the GOP nominee wins the presidency all gay marriages will be dissolved”.
iii) As everyone else has already said, it really solidifies the Republican party as the party of obstruction. All the other things that the GOP congress refuses to do are at least a little bit technical and so not trivial for non-political people to understand. Refusing to vote on a supreme court justice because they hope to do better at the next election is something that is easy to understand. This should make it trivial for Dems to attack the GOP not just for obstructing the supreme court pick, but all the other obstructionism as well.
iv) The GOP probably aren’t going to be unable to hold out all year……and if they try to it’s going to increase voter turnout, which usually favours Dems. In this specific instance, I doubt there are actually that many GOP voters who care about Supreme Court picks who would not bother unless there is an open Supreme seat , compared to the number of Dems / independents who sometimes forget to vote, but would be so disgusted by a year of Republican obstructionism, that they would definitely by energised to vote.
And if instead the GOP has to approve an appointment in 5 months time, the GOP base would be disgusted by yet again, being “let down” by the promises of the GOP establishment. Which will suppress voter turnout in the general election and also make it more difficult for Mitch or any other person that is part of the GOP establishment be respected during the nomination, which would make a brokered convention even more of a shit-show.
v) Saying that they’re going to refuse to confirm any person Obama nominates, makes it harder to influence the choice. If they said that they would only refuse someone who was ‘too’ left wing they would have made it easier to block anyone except the most centrist pick possible. Instead as they’ve refused to confirm anyone, Obama can nominate the libbiest libby liberal justice and claim that the GOP are only blocking them because they’re obstructionists, not because of their political view.
I realise that saying that the GOP isn’t very good at looking ahead at what the results of their decisions will be, is not that shocking a thing to say.
At least in this case, most of the bad effects are going to be on the Republican party first, rather than the rest of the nation. But yes, it definitely increases the stakes of the next election, as if they weren’t high enough already.