Who’s REALLY Politicizing Scalia’s Death?
By Ed Hoffman
I can’t say much more about the recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia than what has already been said. What I can do, however, is tell you whose comments I agree with and whose I do not.
- I do agree with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said that the Senate should not confirm a replacement for Scalia until after the 2016 election. Now, should he have said it within 24 hours of the justice’s death? Probably not, because it gave Democrats too much ammunition to say that Republicans politicized Scalia’s death. Hillary Clinton quickly, predictably called McConnell’s statement “outrageous.” Then again, these are serious times that call for bold actions and McConnell’s immediacy reflects that.
- I do not agree with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who of course believes Obama should nominate Scalia’s replacement right away. “It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat,” Reid said. “Failing to fill this vacancy would be a shameful abdication of one of the Senate’s most essential Constitutional responsibilities.” Democrats are always looking for opportunities to call Republicans shameful, so Reid is just as guilty of politicizing Scalia’s death as McConnell.
- I do agree with Senator Rob Portman, who said that the Senate should follow what he called “common practice” to stop acting on lifetime appointments during the last year of a presidential term. In fact, Senator Portman is one of many knowledgeable people who are pointing out that lame duck Presidents (is there any better way to describe Obama in his second term?) have historically not appointed Supreme Court replacements.
- I also agree with history in general, which shows that there are times when an opposition party-led Senate will block a President’s nomination to the Supreme Court. The most notoriously cited example is Robert Bork, the Nixon administration’s Solicitor General who Ronald Reagan nominated to replace Justice Lewis Powell in 1987. The Democrat-controlled Senate blocked Bork’s confirmation, and Reagan nominated the more moderate Judge Anthony Kennedy instead – an appointment Kennedy continues to hold today.
- I do not agree with the so-called celebrities who decided they had a responsibility to celebrate Scalia’s death on Twitter simply because he dissented on the Court’s decision to strike down state bans on same-sex marriage last year. Grow up. The same goes for the scores of college-aged kids who had probably never heard of Justice Scalia until Saturday. Your hateful, racially charged rhetoric will not get you far in the real world. But you’ll figure that out soon enough.
- I do agree with whoever tweets for the TV show The West Wing, who tweeted: #Scalia was a great American. If you hate him because you disagree with him, perhaps you should ask Bader Ginsberg why she liked him.
- I also agree with National Review writer Rich Lowry, who wrote, “Barack Obama can nominate whomever he likes to the Supreme Court. Of course, the Senate can block him or her. And of course, Democrats can call Republicans heedless obstructionists and try to turn the public against them.”
Exactly. And when that happens, we can ask: Who’s really politicizing Scalia’s death?
Ed Hoffman is host of The Main Event on AM590, which airs Saturday 9:30 AM- 10:30 AM and Sunday 4:00 PM- 5:00 PM. Follow him on Twitter @EdHoffman, and like him on Facebook by searching The Main Event 590.