Ronald Reagan, 1988: ‘Move Quickly’ To ‘Make Sure There’s A Full Nine-Member Supreme Court’

In their effort to prevent President Obama from naming the next Supreme Court justice, Senate Republicans have seized upon a bogus talking point that the Senate has a long-held, bipartisan tradition of refusing confirmation votes to the Supreme Court during an election year.

This claim is demonstrably false, as illustrated by a cursory glance at Senate history and by some of the past statements and even votes of some of the very same senators.

Things got so bad that Ted Cruz, who in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death was one of the first to call on the GOP to block consideration of any nominee from President Obama, falsely claimed in a presidential debate that Justice Anthony Kennedy was confirmed by the Senate in 1987, when in fact he was confirmed in 1988, the final year of Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

The same politicians who try to out-position one another as a modern-day versions of Reagan must find it pretty inconvenient that Reagan, in his last year in office, urged the Senate to “move quickly and decisively” to “make sure there’s a full, nine-member Supreme Court to interpret the law and to protect the rights of all Americans.”

Howard Mortman of C-SPAN flagged the remarks Reagan made in his 1988 State of the Union address.

As Paul explained last week, filling a Supreme Court vacancy in the last year of a presidency is indeed rare — because it is rare for a justice to die in office, and even rarer for a justice to die in a presidential election year.

But many Republicans, it seems, have found it easier to manufacture phony “traditions” than to admit they want to leave the court shorthanded for a year in the hopes of having a president they like better in the future.