It was only an hour after reports had confirmed that Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was dead that Mitch McConnell declared “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” Of course that statement completely ignores the fact that almost 66 million people had used their voice to elect President Barack Obama to a four year term back in 2012. But it wasn’t long before people like Sen. Grassley – chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee – and all of the Republican presidential candidates weighed in to agree with McConnell.
As I watched all this unfold on Saturday night, this is the tweet that captured it for me:
Republicans rejected the President’s constitutional right to fill a Supreme Court vacancy before he’s named a nominee. Think about that.
— Jon Favreau (@jonfavs) February 13, 2016
The word “before” is carrying a lot of weight in that statement. It wasn’t long before much of the media had bought the underlying premise. Notice the word “technically.”
“He still will be technically the pres. of the US for another 11 months.” – CNN. Technically?
— John Aravosis (@aravosis) February 14, 2016
What this means is that Republicans are not even going to wait and question President Obama’s nominee on the merits. They are directly challenging his legitimacy to nominate anyone. That goes to the heart of a case they have been making for seven years now (starting with the whole “birther movement”). It is what Doug Muder referred to as the Confederate worldview.
The essence of the Confederate worldview is that the democratic process cannot legitimately change the established social order, and so all forms of legal and illegal resistance are justified when it tries…
The Confederate sees a divinely ordained way things are supposed to be, and defends it at all costs. No process, no matter how orderly or democratic, can justify fundamental change.
It is also reminiscent of Grover Norquist’s response back in 2003 when talking about how the GOP would handle a Democratic presidency in the “permanent Republican majority.” He said, “We will make it so that a Democrat cannot govern as a Democrat.”
That is what we are seeing played out right now with respect to a nomination to the Supreme Court. Republicans are questioning the very legitimacy of our current President to perform his Constitutional duties. That’s because the social order is changing (both in terms of cultural issues and demographics) and, for them, any form of resistance is justified.
Both Democrats and the media need to be clear about what is happening. Regardless of how often Republicans try to don the mantle of defending the Constitution, they are in the midst of attempting to undermine our democratic processes.