The Senate majority leader, in tandem with Donald Trump, is poised to mold the high court for a generation.
On that frigid February day when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died, Mitch McConnell made what appeared to be a potentially disastrous decision when he vowed to keep Scalia’s seat vacant until the next president took office. The Senate majority leader didn’t consult any of his colleagues, and Democrats promised to make him pay for blocking nominee Merrick Garland by taking back the Senate and keeping the White House.
That, of course, didn’t happen. And you can argue with McConnell’s tactics and whether he invalidated the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency, but you can’t argue with the results: He’s now on the precipice of altering the balance of the court for a generation, and there may be nothing at all Democrats can do about it.
Not only that, there are indications that McConnell’s calculated gamble may have helped elect Donald Trump and keep his Senate under Republican control.
McConnell gave nothing away Wednesday about his looming strategy to confirm a Trump-nominated justice. The Kentucky Republican dodged questions about whether he’ll change Senate rules to jam a conservative nominee down Democrats’ throats.
But McConnell was firm about this much: A new nominee will be confirmed next year, and he’ll be discussing who that might be with Trump himself.
“I said in February of this year to a hail of controversy that I thought it best that the American people decide who made this appointment to the Supreme Court. I thought I was on pretty firm footing in doing that,” McConnell said. “The new president will fill the vacancy, and I expect it to be handled in the way these court appointments are typically handled.”
McConnell added vaguely that Republicans should not overreach after their sweeping wins on Tuesday night. But Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), a close McConnell ally, essentially guaranteed that Republicans would get a conservative nominee confirmed, no matter the Democratic tactics.
“A president gets his or her nominees to the Supreme Court,” Wicker said. “The American people expect that to happen this time.”
The prize for Republicans could extend well beyond filling the now-vacant seat of Scalia. Liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83, Anthony Kennedy is 80 and Stephen Breyer is 78. If any were to step down in the next four years, it would be another opportunity for Trump and McConnell to tilt the court further rightward.
The question now awaiting the Senate — and Trump — is how Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will play it.
Read Full Story At Politico