The Law of Rules

President Obama yesterday finally nominated his choice for a Supreme Court Justice, Merrick Garland.  Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s response?  There is such a thing as a “Biden Rule” that sets a president that allows for a 236 day block from any Senate consideration of President Obama’s nominee.

It’s completely understandable given what is at stake to their base, but they are neglecting their Constitutional duty and setting precedent and claiming it is a Democrat’s idea.

So here is the point.  It’s not my preference, but I’m actually OK with the idea in principle.  But what is good for the goose is good for the gander.  If this is a thing, if Presidents are elected for 3/4th of a term when it comes to nominating a Supreme Court nominee, let us make it a law, not a rule.

Having said that, this obstructionism is outrageous, it is about leverage in the President’s selection of a nominee (which has worked) and hanging on to a decades-long strategic advantage for as long as rhetorically possible.  Ironically, this is one example of why Republicans will lose in November only guaranteeing another Democratic appointed nominee, but that should not be an excuse for fair-minded people in both parties to cry “foul”.

From the NYT and this handy graphic of the history of days from nomination to result…

The Senate has never taken more than 125 days to vote on a successor from the time of nomination; on average, a nominee has been confirmed, rejected or withdrawn in 25 days.

Yesterday there were 236 days left until the election.  If Mitch McConnell is good on his word then we will have waited 188% longer to get a result than ever before in American history.

Despite Republicans best efforts and wishes, this is a country that requires governance. The  Republican talking point “the rule of law” sounds good, but this is just another example that our political process is mostly interested in a rule of law if it suits their own purposes.  Democrats and Republicans should not be fighting for a country where we are governed by made-up rules. Senators too need to follow the law and if we are going to be following a new rule, we need to make it a law so we will all follow this in the future.


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