Carrie Severino, president of right-wing advocacy outfit Judicial Crisis Network, argued to Breitbart News radio listeners Monday that the only precedent for Supreme Court nominations that matters is one that involves Republicans nominating and confirming a new conservative justice to the high court.
On Friday, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, prompting a new political battle as the country heads into the final stretch of the 2020 presidential election. Several leading Democratic Party figures have urged Republicans to wait until after the presidential election to nominate and confirm a replacement for Ginsburg, pointing to Senate Republicans refusal to even allow a hearing for President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in 2016 because it was too close to the presidential election. Though that argument would appear to apply a nominee today, Senate Republican leaders have made clear their intentions to allow President Donald Trump to fill the newfound vacancy.
That didn’t stop Severino of accusing Democrats of imagining ways to make the Supreme Court “even more of a political institution than it already is”—including adding additional justices to the bench, granting statehood to Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, and eliminating the filibuster in the Senate.
“There is nothing holding them back at this point in terms of norms or the idea of ‘Hey, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.’ We don’t want to go down this road,” Severino said. “I think at this point you’ve got a lot of a people who are so angry. It’s this kind of riot, burn-it-all-down mentality that’s ready to do whatever it takes to kind of gain political power regardless of the—just like we’re burning cities down—regardless for the institutions we burn down in the process.”
Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow said it was a “no-brainer” that Trump should nominate a new Supreme Court justice and that Republicans in the Senate should vote to confirm the justice. As for precedents, Severino said that the precedent for nominating a new justice during an election year was well established, pointing to Obama’s 2016 nomination of Garland, and claimed that the precedent for confirmation has everything to do with which political party controls the White House and Senate.
“The bottom line is you’ve got a Republican Senate, you’ve got a Republican president, and there’s more than enough time to nominate someone and have the proper course take its place,” Marlow said. “We’re playing a game, and I’m afraid, Carrie, that there is going to be Republicans—and it only takes three or four of them to flip in this regard—three or four of them are going to play the precedent game, which is not real. It’s imaginary.”
“There is a precedent game, and the precedent says if the White House and Senate are held by the same person, the nominee gets confirmed,” Severino said. “So, to the extent that you’re looking at precedent, it says clearly this is the kind of case that gets confirmed.”
Severino has clearly forgotten her own organization’s argument against filling a Supreme Court vacancy right before a presidential election. In 2016, Judicial Crisis Network ran an ad campaign called “Let The People Decide,” which asserted that voters should “choose the next president” and “the next president chooses the next justice.” The ad campaign featured Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Ron Johnson, Chuck Grassley, Pat Toomey, and Kelly Ayotte.