Ron Johnson’s High Court Hypocrisy
His stand on Trump appointing justice to Supreme Court reverses his view on Obama’s pick.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s integrity is demonstrably flimsy, to put it mildly. So it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to find out that he’s completely flipped his opinion on the rules regarding nominating Supreme Court justices during an election year.
In February 2016, when the late Justice Antonin Scalia passed away suddenly, former President Barack Obama had the opportunity to nominate his successor. But Republicans stalled, arguing that the American people should have a voice in who the next nominee should be, leaving it to Obama’s own successor to make the nomination.
The American people did indeed speak out — with nearly 3 million more voters saying they’d rather Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton be president (and thus, the power to pick the next justice) than Republican candidate Donald Trump. Unfortunately, the Electoral College system made Trump the president, and the people “voicing their opinion” on the matter were ignored. Merrick Garland was tossed aside for Neil Gorsuch, a staunchly conservative choice that the current president can’t stop boasting about.
Johnson was among several GOP lawmakers who made the bogus argument in favor of stalling Garland’s nomination. He met with Obama’s nominee to the High Court in May, and said he was happy to do so, but would not be voting to confirm him in the Senate. His reasoning?
He made a specific plea to entrust the next president, and also “a new…Senate,”which would be “elected by the people only a few months from now…[to] make that important decision,” Johnson said.
Johnson made those comments about six months before the election took place. Now in 2018, however, just two years after he supported the idea of delaying a vote (and only four months until the next election), Johnson has changed his tune, completely abandoning the idea of the people having a say in the decision.
This past week, Johnson said that, with Anthony Kennedy’s announcing his retirement from the Supreme Court, the Senate should “expeditiously move toward the nomination process.” He agreed with Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said a vote should come as early as this fall.
The Cook Political Report currently projects eight Senate seats to be “toss-ups,” which could fundamentally alter the makeup of that chamber, and change the rubber-stamp status of the Senate for Trump’s nominee in significant ways.
The hypocrisy displayed by Republicans couldn’t be plainer. Johnson himself said two years ago that, not only would a new president be needed to confirm a people-endorsed choice for the High Court, but that a new Senate would be necessary as well. Today, those concerns are completely washed over.
If Republicans like McConnell and Johnson are to be consistent, they should halt the nomination process at once, and wait until January to consider a new choice for the Court. They created a new set of rules initially by stonewalling Obama’s choice. Now, they’re changing the rules again. The American people should see through this facade, and demand consistency from the GOP.