Some people are ambidextrous. Harry Reid is ambioratory. He speaks out of both sides of his mouth.
This past week one of Sen. Reid’s staffers penned an op-ed column that ran under his name in The Washington Post on the topic of replacing the late, great, conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who had died only days earlier.
The Democratic Senate minority leader took umbrage with something the Republican Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said shortly after Scalia was found dead at a West Texas hunting resort. McConnell said the American people should have a voice in the replacement process, meaning no new justice should be confirmed until the next president is seated, rather than allow lame-duck Obama to nominate someone like his two liberal rubber stamps on the court — Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.
Reid countered that the American people voiced their opinions by twice electing Obama president and handing him the constitutional power to nominate Supreme Court justices.
“That is how our system works and has worked for more than 200 years,” the op-ed proclaims. “Until now, even through all the partisan battles of recent decades, the Senate’s constitutional duty to give a fair and timely hearing and a floor vote to the president’s Supreme Court nominees has remained inviolable. This Republican Senate would be the first in history to abdicate that vital duty.”
A couple of days later Republicans McConnell and Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, took to the same pages of the same newspaper to remind the same senator who had lectured them days earlier of what he had said in 2005 on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
According to a transcript of that speech, Reid chided President George W. Bush for rewriting the Constitution and reinventing reality when he said two days earlier that the Senate had a duty to promptly consider each nominee, debate their qualifications and give them an up-or-down vote.
“Referring to the president’s words, duty to whom?” Reid asked rhetorically back then. “The radical right who see within their reach the destruction of America’s mainstream values. Certainly not duty to the tenets of our Constitution or to the American people who are waiting for progress and promise, not partisanship and petty debates.
“The duties of the Senate are set forth in the U.S. Constitution. Nowhere in that document does it say the Senate has a duty to give presidential appointees a vote. It says appointments shall be made with the advice and consent of the Senate. That is very different than saying every nominee receives a vote.”
Reid later lectured, “The Senate is not a rubber stamp for the executive branch. Rather, we are the one institution where the minority has the voice and ability to check the power of the majority.”
Fast forward to this past week’s op-ed in the Post. Reid concluded his thundering accusation against Republicans by saying, “Pursuing their radical strategy in a quixotic quest to deny the basic fact that the American people elected President Obama — twice — would rank among the most rash and reckless actions in the history of the Senate. And the consequences will reverberate for decades.”
We seem to recall that by 2005 Bush had been elected twice, but efforts to circumvent his high court appointees seem not to reverberate a single decade later.
It is just as we have come to expect from Harry Reid and his ilk — politics first, last and always. No argument is so compelling that it can’t be reversed, refuted or abandoned. Reid says Obama will nominate someone in two weeks.
If McConnell’s call to give the American people a voice in Scalia’s successor sounds familiar, perhaps it is because Reid’s Democratic Senate colleague Chuck Schumer said in 2007, two years before the end of Bush’s second term:
“For the rest of this president’s term and if there is another Republican elected with the same selection criteria let me say this: We should reverse the presumption of confirmation. The Supreme Court is dangerously out of balance. We cannot afford to see Justice Stevens replaced by another (John) Roberts; or Justice Ginsburg by another (Samuel) Alito. Given the track record of this President and the experience of obfuscation at the hearings, with respect to the Supreme Court, at least: I will recommend to my colleagues that we should not confirm a Supreme Court nominee except in extraordinary circumstances.”
Reid, Schumer, then-Sen. Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden all voted to filibuster Alito and Roberts.
All ambioratory and hypocritical.
A version of this column appears this week in many of the Battle Born Media newspapers — The Ely Times, the Mesquite Local News, the Mineral County Independent-News, the Eureka Sentinel, the Lincoln County Record and the Sparks Tribune — and the Elko Daily Free Press.
The Constitution is clear. A Senate that refuses to consider a nominee is in violation. The Founding Fathers did not want judges to be elected, but Republicans are implicitly saying that they should Whatever Harry Reid is has nothing to do with the illegitimacy of the Republican decision to obstruct government as is it’s usual modus operandi, only this time, they are spitting on the Constitution. Talk about liberal interpretation!
BTW, according to the Economist, 11 Supreme Court nominees have been nominated and confirmed during an election year. 5 were nominated just before an election year and then confirmed within 4 months. Never has the Senate refused to consider a candidate because of approaching elections – until now. Obama is President until his successor takes office. The Constitution says nothing about giving lesser powers because of approaching elections.
This is a naked power grab by the Republican Party. Establishment of this precedent would legitimize holding up nominations for longer and longer periods. How long before the Senate refuses to consider anyone 2, 3 or 4 years before an election? After all, it’s not specifically prohibited.
It is becoming abundantly clear that our present model of a representative republic is in deep trouble. This country is Balkanized and probably will not recover in our lifetimes. A China speaking with one voice is more powerful than a United States speaking with two. It makes me sad to witness our decline
Mr. Mitchell reiterated Reid and Schumer’s stand when the shoe was on the other foot, when there was a Republican president these two jackals didn’t want him to nominate an individual to the Supreme Court. They don’t really care if there is a 9th justice, they want the issue to take attention away from Obama’s worsening agenda, Gitmo, the eeconomyetc.
Reid’s speech — if you had bothered to give it an honest reading — was a defense of the right to fillibuster – to require 60 votes in order to confirm a judge whom a substantial minority of the Senators disagree with. If Republicans like Senator Heller wish to follow the example set by Senator Reid by meeting with President Obama’s nominee, reviewing the nominee’s qualifications, conducting public hearings and then deciding whether to fillibuster, they have every constitutional right to do so.
But that is not what they are doing. They are refusing to even meet with the President’s nominee, let alone consider that nominee’s qualifications. So your “gotcha'” moment is completely lame.
Reid: “Nowhere in that document does it say the Senate has a duty to give presidential nominees ‘an up or down vote.’ It says appointments shall be made with the Advice and Consent of the Senate. That is very different than saying that every nominee receives a vote.”
I see Governor Sandoval declined the opportunity to be nominated for the SCOTUS. I guess he didn’t want to embarrass his party, whichever one that is…
Naked power grab my derriere! What goes around…comes around. There is a voluminous amount of video showing the powerful Senate Democrats clamoring for the same damn thing. How can it be a “power grab” when there are only two seats held by conservative justices now? The left has four solid votes on the court with the other two “swing votes” meandering which ever way the wind blows…and lately the wind has been blowing to the left.
He was, as you well know, defending the right to mount a filibuster, the effect of which is to block a majority-rules vote.
By the way, Mr. Mitchell – did Harry Reid ever deny any of Bush’s nominees a hearing?
Harry, nuclear option, Reid defends the filibuster……
Now, THAT right there, is funny. No matter what side of the aisle you hail from.
Today’s Second Amendment moment:
Five dead including suspect after Washington state shooting
Today’s NON Second Amendment moment:
Five dead including suspect after Washington state shooting.
You had two errors, so I fixed them for you, nyp.
“There is a voluminous amount of video showing the powerful Senate Democrats clamoring for the same damn thing.” Not refusing to consider a nominee for 11 months. That is unprecedented.
Well the President has his pen and his phone…and the Senate Republicans will set a new precedent…so let it be written, so let it be done!
Yes, indeed, the Senate Republicans are setting a new precedent. I completely agree. What they are doing to political norms of conduct is unprecedented.
Just returning the favor to the Democrats.
My favorite quote so far on confirming a new Supreme Court Justice comes from Republican Senator Pat Toomey: “”This is not about the qualifications of the individual.”
That is right. The Republican Senators are not interested in the actual qualifications of anyone nominated by a Democrat.
Really, Mr. Mitchell? The Senate Democrats refused even to meet with President Bush’s Supreme Court nominees, refused to hold hearings and refused to vote?
I guess that was all covered up by the liberal media.
Since the Constitution does not have a date, or tme period, within which it must give it’s advise and concent, I wonder whether republicans would argue (assuming our next president is a democrat) that they could simply go their entire term without advising or concenting?
(Because given the republicans stance here, I trust there would be no objections from republicans in the event a republican president was elected, and a democratic majority was installed in the senate, to the same expression made by a democratic majority)
“Just returning the favor to the Democrats.”
“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.” -Gandhi (a flaming Liberal if I ever saw one)
Since Democrats and indeed, no one else in history have come close to doing what the Republicans promise here, your argument that Dems are just as bad rings very hollow.