James Middlebrook

President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Senate Republicans have announced they intend to move forward with a SCOTUS nominee before the presidential election on Nov 3. President Trump has indicated he is willing to continue into the lame-duck post-election session if necessary. This is not unprecedented, as six previous presidents have filled Supreme Court vacancies in the lame duck session, albeit none in the last 100 years.

Senate Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, which would allow for three defections and still ensure they can pass a vote using Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have said they believe the appointment should wait until after the election, withstanding their opposition, Republicans still have the votes to fill the seat. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has indicated he will support the President’s nominee in his committee, contradicting his 2016 position to oppose the appointment of Merrick Garland to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia during the final year of President Obama’s term.

The arguments each party used in 2016 are now reversed. Republicans previously advocated that the president should not make a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court in an election year, rather leave it to the American people to decide who should be the next president to fill the seat. Democrats turned to the constitution to advocate that the seat must be filled, regardless of the timing of the vacancy. Now, the party roles are reversed and both sides are being accused of hypocrisy. It’s a simple answer as to why this is happening: Power.

Of course, in 2016 Republicans would not fill the seat if they had an opportunity to fill it themselves in the coming year; which they did when President Trump nominated Justice Neil Gorsuch. Hypocrisy in politics is as common as sunshine in San Diego. The simple answer: if your party is in the position of power you will exercise it, and if not, you will resist it.

Adding to the upcoming political mayhem, the federal government needs a new spending bill by Oct 1. Leader McConnell announced his opposition to a continuing resolution House Democrats filed recently, adding to the tense situation in Washington, DC. America is facing a federal spending bill fight, a coronavirus relief package fight, and a Supreme Court vacancy fight, all wrapped up in a presidential election.

Short of a cataclysmic event, Republicans will fill the Supreme Court vacancy. Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride ahead.