In "Unprecedented, Historic" Move, Senate GOP Will Deny Obama Supreme Court Nominee Hearings

Tyler Durden's picture

The war between Obama and the Republican Party over Scalia's Supreme Court replacement just went nuclear.

One day after a 1992 video clip emerged of vice president Joe Biden emerged when the then-senator from Delaware said the Senate should not consider a Supreme Court nominee by president George H.W. Bush during an election year, this afternoon Senate Republicans went "all in" on a Supreme Court gamble, in which they vowed to deny holding confirmation hearings for any nominee from President Obama.

The unprecedented decision, made before the president has named a nominee, marks a new chapter in Washington’s war over judicial nominations according to The Hill. In a battle of superlatives, CNN adds that the "historic move outraged Democrats and injected Supreme Court politics into the center of an already tense battle for the White House."

"I don't know how many times we need to keep saying this: The Judiciary Committee has unanimously recommended to me that there be no hearing. I've said repeatedly and I'm now confident that my conference agrees that this decision ought to be made by the next president, whoever is elected," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.

He then added he would not likely meet with any nominee, a custom that high court nominees typically do before hearings. "I don't know the purpose of such a visit I would not be inclined to take it myself."

The decision to not hold hearings is a historic move from the Senate, which has regularly held confirmation hearings for nominees since hearings became routine practice in 1955, the Senate historian's office said Tuesday.

McConnell was not alone: Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said he also would not meet with a nominee. "I don't see the point in going through the motions, if we know what the outcome is going to be. I don't see the point in going through the motions and creating a misleading impression."

Cornyn, a Texas Republican, told reporters at an afternoon press conference that the Republicans on the Judiciary committee submitted a letter to the Republican leaders unanimously opposing any hearing for a nominee to replace late Justice Antonin Scalia.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said that's the "consensus" view among Republicans on the committee and Cornyn said the same.

"We believe the American people need to decide who is going to make this appointment rather than a lame-duck president," Cornyn said Tuesday as he left a meeting of top Republicans discussing how to handle the White House's promised nominee.

Graham went so far as telling CNN he would not even meet with any nominee, should he or she make courtesy calls on the Hill. As did Sen. Tim Scott, a South Carolina Republican. 

The stakes for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and his conference are high. A Fox News poll released earlier this month found that registered voters want Obama and Senate leaders to "take action to fill the vacancy now" by a margin of 62% to 34%. A Pew Research Center poll released Monday found a majority of Americans (56%) say the Senate should hold hearings and vote on Obama's choice to fill the vacancy, with 38% saying they should not hold hearings until the next president takes office.

“His vulnerable people are not going to get off the hook,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), Senate Democrats’ chief political strategist. “The public is demanding [action], huge groups are demanding it. We’ve seen data that the millennials care more about the Supreme Court than anybody else.”

Nonetheless, in a sharply worded statement on the Senate floor earlier Tuesday, McConnell bluntly warned the White House that the GOP-controlled Senate would not act on anyone he chooses to sit on the high court.

As The Hill adds, the fierce debate could also cause a breakdown in bipartisan relations, threatening legislation on the agenda for the rest of this year.

The biggest consequence may be the precedent it sets for future nominees to the nation’s highest court, however, in an era when parties have begun angling for the presidency earlier and earlier. If Republicans win the White House, Democrats are more likely to retaliate with filibusters to block judicial nominees.

In the short term, their position will give Democrats a political cudgel to pummel vulnerable incumbents facing reelection.

But McConnell sees it as a smart political bet. By “ripping the Band-Aid off,” in the words of one senior GOP aide, he is hoping to limit the political pain to a span of weeks instead of letting Democrats milk the issue for months.


Republicans know they’re not going to confirm Obama’s nominee to replace legendary conservative jurist Antonin Scalia. A liberal successor would dramatically change the ideological balance of the court.

Some see the move as strategically prudent: holding hearings this spring would allow the Obama administration and Democrats to shift the focus to the personal story of the nominee and away from the principle that a president should not make the pick in an election year. Democrats could stretch out stories about GOP obstruction for the rest of the year. Without Senate action, it will be tougher to fuel media interest.

“It’s a smart gamble. They elect him leader to make these kinds of decisions,” said the senior aide. “We were in the middle of a recess, everyone was scattered, and he acted rightly and decisively. Everyone has rallied around him.”

Others are not convinced and have warned that it would be a mistake to shut down Obama’s pick without a fair review. “It’s common sense to have hearings and then an up-or-down vote and say why you’re opposing a person,” said Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) in an interview. “To just say no [and have] no hearings, no vote, I think that puts us on the defensive. It looks like we’re afraid of something.”

One of the chamber’s most vulnerable Republicans, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), wrote in an op-ed Monday that he and his colleagues have “a duty” to review and vote on the nominee.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, initially warned that his party could “fall into the trap of obstructionists” if it rejects the nominee “sight unseen.”

On thing is certain, the Democrats are outraged and unleashed sharp criticism contending that the GOP-led Senate was failing to do its job and would be risking its tenuous hold on the majority in the fall elections.

Obama jabbed at Senate Republicans, tweeting Tuesday evening for Americans to tell the majority party in the Senate to "#DoYourJob."

"Refusing to even consider the President's Supreme Court nominee is unprecedented," he tweeted.

But best of all, even Trump is somehow now involved.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said McConnell was taking his marching orders from Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, who had called on the Senate to delay consideration of any nominee.


"That's exactly what the Republican leader is doing: Delay, delay, delay," Reid said. He angrily added that "333 days isn't enough to do the work that we do ordinarily do in 67 days."

We eagerly look forward to Trump's retort. And while we do, one thing is certain: if the Fed had harbored any hopes that some consensus over a fiscal policy stimulus would emerge in Congress and pick up the baton from money printing, it will be sorely disappointed.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Father Thyme's picture
Father Thyme (not verified) Feb 23, 2016 9:20 PM

Hussein, you're fired!

t0mmyBerg's picture

He probably should be.  I am pretty sure he was going to nominate himself dressed either as a clown or as Debt Brother from Planet O to pretend it wasnt him.  So the lack of hearings doesnt really matter as it would have been a bogus nomination anyway. 


Outraged Democrats are hereby invited by me to go fuck themselves.  Especially as the real nominee was going to be Eric Holder according to all the emails I got asking for money by true patriots today.

Bumpo's picture

"We’ve seen data that the millennials care more about the Supreme Court than anybody else.”

Time for the Millenials to take a dump in their pampers in want of a 'Safe Space'


Supernova Born's picture

Doing what the Senate does best.


JamesBond's picture

The real nuke option here is with Obama:

The president may make a temporary appointment to any office requiring senate approval, including filling vacancies on the supreme court



froze25's picture

Peter King - NY RINO already selling out .  Can't wait till he retires or a successful primary is fought. 

Stuck on Zero's picture

Republicans are chicken. They don't want to have to deny a lesbian, transexual, Marxist, moslem, Spanish speaking native American, militant, son of holocaust victims, injured veteran, recovering druggie and alcoholic, ex-prostitute, Harvard graduated, seeker of safe spaces a place on the supreme court.

DeadFred's picture

The down side for them is maybe the Kenyan Guy will decide to stay in office by executive order for 'the duration of the crisis'. What crisis? It hasn't happened yet but don't think he doesn't have a plans in some back drawer.

weburke's picture

there are so many people who know that obamas plane went to texas when scalia did, and there are so many people who know this was just a blatant killing or abduction.

jeff montanye's picture

or abduction?  scalia's body is gone?  or just his ghost/soul?  splain yourself.

couple thoughts: james bond: the president's right to make recess appointments was recently restricted by oh yes, the supreme court.  the senate can pretty much keep from being legally in recess for an unlimited amount of time, see

as the link states, obama's best chance is to offer someone so attractive to republicans and the nation generally (like colin powell pre u.n. saddam bashing/valarie plame outing, etc.) that the r's seem like putzes not to at least have hearings.

p.s. stuck on zero: you are going to have a hard time getting male lesbians that went to harvard.  all the ones i know are princetonians (one yalie).

swmnguy's picture

My nickel says Obama nominates Trump to the Supreme Court.

MalteseFalcon's picture

This move is neither 'historic' or 'unprecedented'.

The Democrats on several occasions have done this very thing.

There is video if Biden and Schumer demanding that Republican nominees not go forth in election years.

Now McConnell would like desperately to 'bend over', but Mitch's owners know that if he does that, the next president of the USA will be Donald Trump.

So Trump is already affecting national policy.


prefan4200's picture

Do you see what happens, Barry? This is what happens, Barry !

TBT or not TBT's picture

Only when Congress is in recess.   

JamesBond's picture

That's why I describe it as a nuke option.  Can you imagine the blast felt around the world if he were able to use it?


** March recess appointment??**

MalteseFalcon's picture

A recess appointment expires at year end.

Nobody is interested in a recess appointment, especially Obama.

BarkingCat's picture

where is that in the Constitution?


Maybe a supreme Court appointment during  senate's recess would go to the supreme Court to be resolved.

Now, would the scab judge sit on the bench for that one???

Lynx Dogood's picture

Exactly! 10 to 1 odds they fold like a napkin. If they don't Hitlery will CANKLE them to death, WE all know flying cankle kicks from Hitlery are deadly, the arse behind them beeps while going through the air backwards!

J Jason Djfmam's picture

That's why you have to stand to the side of her when milking her.

Illegal's picture

NLRB v. Noel Canning
BO already lost one case at the SC for recessed appointments.

TonyRUs's picture

Obama won't make a temp appointment. He's had 7 years of no opposition. He's gotten way too cocky to do that. No. He'll go for the win.

JamesBond's picture

That may prove true.  Howeever, he is more lame duck than some think and it looks like the republicans have a lock on the committee process.  Obama, in my opinion, would consider a temp appointment as a power move, not one of weakness.  Here's a beer bet that he does make a recess appointment.  





August's picture

Obama will nominate one of America's most distinguished minority female jurists, and then just let the Legacy Media run with it.

The above may or may not get a nominee confirmed but, properly played, it will definitely help activate the Dem Base for November.

JamesBond's picture


You make a good point.  But I don't think Obama is going to let the senate win this battle by stalling.  This is about him and not the next president.  If he doesn't move, he looks like he ended his tensure as a puss.  Expect him to fight a hard PR battle and if he can't get the senate to move, he will appoint.  It's a waiting game.

BarkingCat's picture

It will

 be very difficult for him to fight hard when you consider his golf schedule and snuggie time with Reggie.

cheech_wizard's picture

Wrong, but thanks for playing...

"pro-forma" sessions

Harry Reid did this to block Bush's nominations.


booboo's picture

Be grateful they are a "do nothing" legislative branch, they are less dangerous that way.

BarkingCat's picture

what moron would down vote that??

Is the IP address in the DC area?

Tejano's picture

"Doing what the Senate does best. Nothing."

Good! Don't just do something, stand there!

TBT or not TBT's picture

McConnell might pull a McConnell, so the Constitution haters can still hope for (count on?) that.  

Victory_Garden's picture




...ems witto boy-ballers gest ems witto butts hurt?




Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww... wah!

TBT or not TBT's picture

Falls short of impeachment but sends the anti-American Constitution shredding traitor off with a stern talking-to.  

mickrussom's picture

I remember in 1992 Biden said he wanted the next president to do the nomination. Same situation, opposite attitude.

J Jason Djfmam's picture

Where's Tom Delay when you need him?

Limbs Akimbo's picture



And yet nobody calls it treason.

JamesBond's picture

WE hypocrited some folks

nmewn's picture

No doubt...

...just let it run, all the hypocrites are in there ;-)

medium giraffe's picture

Oh, so he has heard of the constitution then?  Blimey.

sixsigma cygnusatratus's picture

Executive order in 3...2...1...

Implied Violins's picture

...either that, or CIA/Mossad to hand out another 'free trip' to a conservative supreme court justice. I saw a movie about someone offing two justices once - I think it starred Julia Roberts...

froze25's picture

Crises in the court would require him appointing one. That's the next move if there is going to be one. 

TBT or not TBT's picture

What color sky do you have in the universe where the Constitution says any such thing?

sixsigma cygnusatratus's picture

What color sky do you have in the universe where the Constitution says any such thing? you mean they have to read it and follow it too? Usually Obama just holds it up in front of the camera and says that the Constitution says he can...


Edit:  I see by the down-vote that mentioning the color of the sky makes this a rayciss remark.