McConnell warns of ‘consequences’

MCCONNELL WARNS OF ‘CONSEQUENCES’…. Usually, when Republicans on the Hill get worked up about something, there’s an electoral angle. They raise a fuss in the hopes of scoring some points, cheap or otherwise, with voters.

Whining about confirmation hearing schedules, though, seems like a loser.

The top Senate Republican accused Democrats Wednesday of moving too hastily on Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination, warning that their decision would have unspecified “consequences.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., criticized Democrats for scheduling mid-July hearings for the federal appeals judge.

McConnell went on to describe the kickoff of hearings in July as “arbitrary” and a “ticket to disaster.”

President Obama nominated Sotomayor on May 26, and the hearings are set to begin on July 13. That’s 48 days — hardly unusual for modern Supreme Court nominees. When John Roberts was nominated, the Judiciary Committee not only had to review his judicial record, but also track down thousands of pages dating from Roberts’ work as a lawyer in the Reagan and Bush I administrations. His first hearing came 51 days after he was introduced.

Given that conservatives started oppo research on Sotomayor before she was nominated, plus the fact that the Senate has twice considered her background, compounded by the fact that Republicans have no expectations of actually defeating the judge’s nomination, threatening “consequences” for a 48-day review process before confirmation hearings begin seems more than a little excessive.

But the silliness continues anyway. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) was on Fox News yesterday, talking about steps Republicans may take to delay the process, and there’s at least some discussion about GOP members of the Judiciary Committee boycotting the confirmation hearings in protest.

As a substantive matter, these complaints are largely baseless. But as a political matter, the strategy seems entirely pointless. Why raise a fuss about an issue that no one outside the Senate cloakroom cares anything about? It’s possible this is just another stunt to gin up excitement from the party’s activist base, but is a 48-day review process really the kind of thing that’ll make Republican donors reach for their checkbook?