Recently minted liberal shill Steve Schmidt, a former Republican strategist who managed John McCain’s presidential bid in 2008, urged Democrats to dig in their heels and prevent Donald Trump from carrying out his presidential duty of nominating a U.S. Supreme Court justice. This undermined not only the Republican Party, but also the regular order of the U.S. government.
“For the fabric of our democracy, Democrats should dig in hard here and do everything they conceivably can do to block this nomination — any nomination — from going forward until after we see what happens in the midterm election,” Schmidt told MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace.
Schmidt echoed the talking points of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who said it would be the “height of hypocrisy” for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to consider a Trump nominee to the nation’s highest Court in the wake of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement.
“As you know, in the White House I ran the Roberts and Alito confirmations,” the former Bush staffer and McCain campaign manger said. “I was supportive of President Obama — with Kagan and Sotomayor — because I believe presidential elections have consequences and that president should be afforded wide discretion with regard to their Supreme Court nominations.”
Schmidt then turned on McConnell, accusing him of having “done great damage to the United States Senate as an institution that was once known as the world’s greatest deliberative body.”
Then came the ridiculously false declaration. “They stole a Supreme Court seat from the Democrats. And for the fabric of our democracy, Democrats should dig in hard here.”
For all his discussion of defending institutions, this painful false equivalency is degrading the proper roles of the president and the Senate in nominating Supreme Court justices. There is absolutely no comparison between McConnell’s decision in 2016 to refuse to consider an Obama nominee and Schumer’s ridiculous claim that he will fight any Trump nominee until after the mid-term elections.
“Second only to Kennedy’s announcement itself, the most important thing that happened today is that [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer said he will oppose any name taken off the list,” Thomas Jipping, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told PJ Media on Wednesday. He added that Schumer did this “within about two hours.”
Jipping explained that this was particularly noteworthy because Kennedy’s retirement falls into the regular order of Supreme Court nominations. “There’s literally no reason, no reason to handle this in anything but the regular order of the Senate,” the Heritage scholar, who has more than 30 years of experience in judicial affairs, told PJ Media.
The 2016 situation was unique. When Justice Antonin Scalia died, a presidential election had already started. “That was so totally unique, it absolutely has no parallel,” Jipping said. Republicans decided not to consider an Obama nominee because Obama was a lame duck president, and the president nominates Supreme Court justices.
For Schumer to suggest that, since the Senate confirms justices, Trump should wait until the end of the 2018 mid-term elections to nominate a Kennedy replacement is absurd. There is absolutely no parallel. Not only was Kennedy’s retirement in the ordinary course of things, but a presidential election is fundamentally different from a mid-term election when it comes to the impact on the Supreme Court.
Jipping blamed Obama for this state of affairs. Although the Senate Republicans were clear they would not consider an Obama appointee, the president decided to make a nomination anyway. “I don’t know whether Obama thought they were lying, but he chose to send a nominee that he knew would never get a vote,” Jipping explained. “That whole mess was Obama’s doing.”
Democrats like Schumer and former Republicans like Schmidt claim to defend America’s institutions, but this little stunt is directly undermining the regular order of the Supreme Court. There is no equivalence between McConnell’s 2016 decision and Schumer’s decision yesterday.
Republicans did not “steal a Supreme Court seat” in 2016, but if Democrats were to refuse to give a Trump nominee a hearing in 2018, that would represent a theft of a Supreme Court seat. Trump won 2016 fair and square, and Democrats owe his nominees a hearing.
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