The other day, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid went full retard, claiming that Republicans who hold up a nomination to the Supreme Court in the final year of President Obama’s last term are worse than civil rights-era segregationists. Apparently, that sort of unhinged rhetoric is a key component of Democrats’ political playbook as they attempt to apply pressure to senate Republicans in an election year.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on an unusual Democrat-only senate hearing hosted by Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar. The hearing included a group of so-called “constitutional experts” who railed against Republicans who are unwilling to consider an Obama nominee. From the Tribune:
The panel of constitutional experts said that holding up a nomination is unconscionable. “If [Senate Republicans] carry through with this threat, it would be an action morally and legally on par with the Southern Manifesto,” said Geoffrey Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago…
How the Southern Manifesto proves relevant to the current scenario is anyone’s guess. An ideological expression detailing opposition to racial integration, the s-called “Southern Manifesto” — a pro-segregation screed written and signed in 1956 by 99 southern Democrats and just two Republicans in opposition to Brown v. Board — had nothing whatsoever to do with nominations to the Court.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a former law professor, agreed.
“Senator McConnell was right that the American people should have a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice, and in fact they did when President Obama won the election in 2012 by 5 million votes,” Warren said. “In 100 years, every single pending nominee … has received a vote on the floor of the United States Senate. For the rest of this year, President Obama is still the president of the United States of America.”
Of course, no one questions whether Obama is still the president, or his right to nominate whomever he wants to the supreme court. But the current senate was also elected, and retains its own rights. In a way, by employing this strategy of heavy-handed racialized rhetoric, senate Democrats admit their constitutional impotence. There is nothing morally or legally inappropriate taking place, which is why Democrats must turn to electoral politics and the hope of acquiring more power in the November.