Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has now promised to stifle any judicial nominee President Obama makes for the Supreme Court following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President,” he stated.
In March 2010, McConnell and then-House Speaker John Boehner wrote an op-ed about Obamacare, stating, “Taxpayers can expect Republicans to stand up for them and do whatever is necessary to prevent Democrats from forcing such an unpopular, unaffordable bill through Congress.” Of course, once that bill was passed and Republicans gained power, both Boehner and McConnell fully funded it.
In October 2014, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus told Breitbart News:
We will do everything we can to make sure [executive amnesty] doesn’t happen – defunding, going to court, injunction, you name it. It’s wrong. It’s illegal. And for so many reasons, and just the basic fabric of the country, we can’t allow it to happen, and we won’t let it happen.
At the same time, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said, “Because we don’t have the Senate, we don’t have the power of the purse. We’d like to exercise that more effectively, and if we can get the Senate, we can do that.” That, of course, did not happen. The Republicans, instead, fully funded Obama’s executive amnesty last year.
In November 2015, in the aftermath of release of undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood executives bargaining over the sale of baby body parts, McConnell stated, “We’re confident that the Obamacare repeal bill … will contain a defund of Planned Parenthood.” When push came to shove, of course, McConnell refused to include a Planned Parenthood funding cut in a spending bill, stating it would be “an exercise in futility.” Planned Parenthood continues to be funded.
So, do we trust Mitch McConnell and company when they say that they will stop President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee?
The stakes could not be higher here, and McConnell has not earned our trust. Look, instead, for McConnell to engage in play fighting: shouting loudly from the rooftops that Obama’s nominees will be stalled, and then caving in when Obama begins to shut down the government to force the issue.
Here are three factors that will precipitate the kabuki theater:
Obama’s Choice of Nominee. President Obama is likely to nominate a minority who has already been approved by Republicans in the Senate for a separate position. Today, Tom Goldstein, who runs SCOTUSblog, says that Obama will likely pick polarizing Attorney General Loretta Lynch, stating, “The fact that Lynch was vetted so recently for attorney general also makes it practical for the president to nominate her in relatively short order.” Lynch passed through the Senate 56-43 in her confirmation, and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), among others, praised her. Obama will run his usual game plan, meanwhile: he’ll suggest that Republican opposition is based on her race and his own.
The Republicans’ 2016 Plans. Many Republicans are fond of promising they’ll stop Obama’s agenda, but like good little Democrats, run for the hills the moment government funding comes under fire. The good news: because Republicans already caved to Obama and passed a massive omnibus package that carries a fully-funded government through the 2016 election, Obama won’t have a lot of leverage here. The bad news: Republicans can always find some leverage to give Obama, particularly if McConnell feels that the hold-up is reflecting badly on Senate Republicans. Plus, Republicans will have to ensure that they never allow a recess to prevent Obama from making a recess appointment.
The Election. McConnell and company have already set an end-date for their kabuki theater protest: the election. What happens, however, if Hillary Clinton is elected? Do they then allow her to appoint a leftist to the Court, forever shifting the balance of the Court and putting a stake through the heart of the Constitution?
All of this means that conservatives must continue to place heavy pressure on their senators not to cave here or in the future. That will be a rough road. But any Republican who does cave should face the threat of immediate primary. This isn’t about a reversible government policy implemented by the left. This is about the appointment of a lifetime leftist to a position of ultimate power. It simply can’t be allowed to happen.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News, Editor-in-Chief of DailyWire.com, and The New York Times bestselling author, most recently, of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.