Reprinted with permission from DailyKos
Remarkably, Sen. Lisa Murkowski told Alaska Public Media on Friday afternoon that she would not confirm a new Supreme Court justice before next year's inauguration. "Fair is fair," she said speaking hypothetically before the announcement of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's passing.
She was talking, of course, about the precedent Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set for confirming justices before a presidential election when he refused to even consider President Barack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia. Scalia died a full nine months before that year's election. McConnell, pulling a Senate procedure out of his ass, said that the Senate could not possibly confirm a nominee before an election, and that the voters should be allowed to have their say on the direction of the court. And clearly, with McConnell being the destroyer of everything good in this world, he will push a nominee—in a total reversal of his previous doctrine.
There were early rumors circulating that Romney was going to be honorable and oppose a vote on a nominee. His spokesman has just declared that "grossly false." I'm not sure where the "grossly" is to be applied here.
Well, Murkowski is taking him at his word on the Garland doctrine. Here's what she said last month, when the question was raised. "When Republicans held off Merrick Garland it was because nine months prior to the election was too close, we needed to let people decide. And I agreed to do that. If we now say that months prior to the election is OK when nine months was not, that is a double standard and I don't believe we should do it."
Here's what some other Republicans said. Sen. Chuck Grassley said that "in the abstract […] I would do the same thing in 2020 that I would in 2016." That is: refuse to consider a nominee. Lindsey Graham, now chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee which would have the hearings on a nominee, said he'd be "willing" to fill a vacancy, but "I'd like to get input from my colleagues. […] I don't know. We'll see." As an aside, Graham's Democratic opponent for November is Jaime Harrison, who just raised $2 million in two days. Back-to-back $1 million days for his opponent might cause Graham to think a bit on this one.
So it's pretty much on Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney to do the right thing and stand with Murkowski. Romney said in August, "I'm not at a point where I have something to say." He'd better get there fast. In August, Collins pulled her usual dodge. "We do not have a vacancy on the Supreme Court. All nine justices are alive." Then this month, she told The New York Times' Jonathon Martin that she wouldn't vote to confirm anyone in October. "I think that's too close, I really do," she said. She also told Martin that she would be opposed seating a justice during the lame duck session after the election if Trump loses. She didn't say whether she thinks September is too close.
Murkowski and Collins are basically on the record—no vote for a Trump nominee before the election. Theoretically, so is Graham. Back in October 2018, he said, "If an opening comes in the last year of President Trump's term, and the primary process has started, we'll wait to the next election," but Graham is a piece of shit and can't be expected to keep his word.
What we do now? Work on Senate races. Scare the shit out of those Republicans who are up for reelection and make this too toxic an option to consider. Failing that, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris should pledge NOW to increase the size of the court when they win, and get Senate Democrats lined up behind them.
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