Following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in February, Republican leaders insisted that they would refuse to even consider any nominee President Obama put forward to fill the court’s vacant seat because the nomination process would be too close to Election Day, arguing that the job of appointing a new justice should be up to the next president.
That is, unless that president is Hillary Clinton.
Today, Sen. John McCain of Arizona urged Pennsylvania voters to re-elect fellow Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, making the case that Senate Republicans will work in unison to block any potential Clinton appointment to the high court. “I promise you that we will be united against any Supreme Court nominee that Hillary Clinton, if she were president, would put up,” he said. “I promise you. This is where we need the majority.”
McCain isn’t the first Republican to concede that the GOP’s ostensibly principled opposition to confirming a new Supreme Court justice during Obama’s last year in office is nothing but a ruse to prevent the confirmation of Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to fill Scalia’s seat.
Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay told Senate Republicans in July that they should simply refuse to consider any Supreme Court nominee during a Clinton presidency. Carrie Severino of the Judicial Crisis Network, a leading outside group advocating for the Senate GOP’s Supreme Court obstruction, similarly expressed interest in continuing the Supreme Court blockade if Clinton is elected, saying that “the court could really function as long as it needed to with eight justices.”
Back in February, Ted Cruz said that “if the Democrats want to replace” Scalia, “they need to win the election.”
After refusing to fulfill their duties and obstructing the sitting president’s Supreme Court nominee for nearly a year, it seems that Republicans are getting ready to say that Clinton won’t be allowed to fill the vacancy even if she does win in November.