Rubio’s Hypocritical Concern About Political Tribalism

There has been some chatter among Democrats about the idea of adding seats to the Supreme Court.

There is nothing in the Constitution mandating that the Supreme Court have nine members, and a simple act of Congress could increase that number to 11, or 15, or even more. That effectively creates a way for a political party in control of the House, Senate, and presidency to add a large number of ideologically sympathetic justices to the Court, all at once.

To many leftists and left-liberals, such drastic action is needed if any progressive legislation in the future is to survive.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) decided to do some pearl-clutching about political “tribalism” in response.

At this moment though, our institutions are suffering a crisis of confidence as families fragment and communities crumble. And most Americans view every branch of government with disdain.

As we have seen, these problems do not necessarily fade from one election to the next. In fact, they may intensify. The path forward will require Americans, their political leaders, the news media and countless others to set aside the political tribalism that dominates today’s culture.

Americans need to view one another as friends, neighbors and coworkers – not Republicans or Democrats…

To this end, I am proposing a constitutional amendment to prevent the next political and cultural flashpoint: the packing of the Supreme Court for partisan gains…

Our nation may not be on the brink of civil war or dissolution, but we are suffering a crisis of confidence and we cannot withstand further erosion of trust in one another and our institutions.

Got that? When it comes to the Supreme Court, political tribalism is very bad for America because it erodes trust in our institutions.

Could it be that it was only three years ago that Sen. Marco Rubio joined with his Republican colleagues to deny a hearing or vote on a Supreme Court nominee put forward by a Democratic president, the first time that has ever happened in the history of our country? Here’s your answer:

Asked by reporters about President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination, Rubio went beyond the party line to express outright opposition to Judge Merrick Garland.

“I mean, I don’t see the point of it,” Rubio said of the nomination. “I know enough about his record to know I wouldn’t support him and I know enough about the position in general to be able to say, number one, I don’t think we should be moving on a nominee in the last year of this president’s term — I would say that if it was a Republican president — and number two, even if this was the third year of this president’s term, this is not someone I’d support.”

The fact that Rubio didn’t support Merrick Garland is irrelevant—even though a Republican colleague had once called him a “consensus nominee.” Nothing triggered a bigger “flash point” of political tribalism than the Republican effort to deny a sitting president’s Supreme Court nominee a vote, much less a hearing.

So when it comes to pearl-clutching about maintaining trust in our governmental institutions, Sen. Marco Rubio can have a seat, as they say these days. We’re not interested in hearing any moral lectures about political tribalism from the likes of someone with his record.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.